Friday, September 28, 2007

"Thou shalt not covet (or hit) they neighbor's ass"

What a week this has been. Truly. Monday was a great day, and I had the whole week before me. Fall (my favorite season!) was here, and the leaves had started to fall, gracefully, and all was well -- until Tuesday morning. Actually, Tuesday morning was also a beautiful day, and my baby girl and I were all cuddled up in our chair as I was feeding her her morning bottle. I gave her one final snuggle and a kiss on the head before I decided it was time to get dressed. Now, daddy loves to dress her up, so all I had to do was give her a bottle, burp and diaper her, and get myself ready. No problem! Mornings are a breeze because we have a system. We both get our morning snuggle time with "Miss Kong" (that's another story) and then it's off to work for both of us.

So, all was well until I decided to put "Miss Kong" in her bouncy seat, which is her favorite place to be while I am getting ready in the morning. I bent over to place her, ever so gently, in her bouncy seat, and my back "POPPED" loudly, and I got stuck. It took some time to right myself, but at least I never dropped the baby, thank God! She was right in her little spot, and she was just fine. There I was. It was too late to call in and get a sub at the last minute like that, and since I was in charge of a senior trip, I HAD to... just HAD to... get all of that taken care of. Sometimes, it really bites to be an hour away from work. I had money to collect, permission slips to file, and a test was scheduled for my sophomores later that week. I finally got dressed, which was a real trick in and of itself, and off to work I went with baby in tow. I called my boss from the road, and I explained that although I was in transit, I hurt like heck and I didn't think I would make it the full day. Thankfully, he found a sub for me, and I managed to get to work, teach a class, and then when my sub arrived, I made the backtrack to pick up the baby and head straight to my chiropractor's office. He did what he could, but I was really messed up, and, honestly, this "crick" is still not totally gone. He said it would be Monday next week before I'd feel much better. The headaches have been phenomenal, and I wondered if I was ever going to get back to normal.

Thursday I still felt like crap, and what was worse (besides not remembering which day of the week I am talking about in my own diary and that's what I get for missing two and a half days of work because of my stupid back) is that my stupid alternator went out in my van. Actually, this happened late Wednesday night, and there was nothing I could do about it since it was well after business hours before we discovered there was an issue, and even then, we thought it was only a bad battery. Grrrr. AAA had to come out early Thursday morning and tow it in for repairs while I was wadded up in a chair with a heatpad all day long. Grrrrr. What a suckie week! Can things possibly get any worse? A freakin' $300 repair, but at least our mechanic is super cool, and he got the van repaired by Thursday afternoon.

Friday morning finally arrives, and although I was still very sore, I was at least up and mobile, and "Miss Kong" and I were ready to get dressed for work again. This time, I'd learned my lesson: I keep her bouncy seat next to my chair, and from here on out, I place her in it before I stand up, and that decreases the back strain since I am not bending over from a fully extended position. So, things are looking better! I joyfully filled my coffee mug, and I grabbed my Maple, Brown Sugar, and Cinnamon Pop Tart, and I loaded up the van. What a BEAUTIFUL MORNING! We were almost on our way!

I live deep in the forested hills of southern Ohio, and we had had a fabulous rainstorm yesterday, so the morning was a really foggy one, which created the most romantic misty morning... "Life is GRAND!" I thought to myself. I grabbed Miss Kong, and I lovingly tucked her into her car seat, and she smiled her shy, but flirtatious little knowing smile (knowing that she has got me heart and soul) and she goo'd and coo'd, and, finally, away we went! YEAH! Visibility was not so great, I noticed, once I hit the road, and I resolved to wait to have my Pop Tart until I had a nice clear stretch of road before me, and that was a grand decision!

Now, we have a long commute, 100 miles roundtrip (yes, I said this before, now, didn't I?); so on the way down, I was thrilled to hear "Proud Mary" by CCR pop up onto XM Radio. YES! This was the best morning ever! Can life get any better? Guess I am easily amused, huh? But, life, to me, is about the simple things... As I'm driving along, I think, "Gosh, I have GOT to get the family to an Ohio University football game just to see the The Most Exciting Band in the Land!" Ohio University's Marching 110.... because ain't no one plays "Proud Mary" (or anything else, for that matter!) as well as the The Ohio University Marching 110!. Then... THERE IT WAS!!! OH MY GOD! Please, lord, do NOT let me hit this thing... what is it? Jeepers Creepers REALLY DOES exist, and it's right here, in the middle of the road!

Thankfully, I do not hit this hideous thing! Afterall, I could not be late for work; however, this monstrosity was still wandering, lazily, in the middle of the road! "Thank you, God for preventing me from hitting that thing" I whisper to myself, and I laid on my horn to wake the houses nearby so that they would realize that a goblin was in their midst -- it was only 6:30 a.m.! There it was... a darned donkey! Yes, you read it right. There was a donkey wandering about in the middle of the road on the foggiest morning in like forever, AND... I didn't hit it! YAY ME!

Now, this is a long and winding road, and it has it's peaks and valleys, and since this thing came out of nowhere, I decided that in order to ensure the safety of this poor dumb beast, I should call the county sheriff's office, and that I did! I explained to them that there was a donkey running loose on "X Road" and that I was NOT making a crank call, I promised. They kinda giggled, but they heard me out, even though I was unable to give them a street number because I was too busy trying to NOT hit the donkey. With such low visibility, how in the world would I ever notice the number on the mailbox? Anyway, I gave them a perfect description of the house that it was walking towards, and they said they'd send a deputy out right away.

Whew. All safe! Miss Kong and me, the donkey, and any other motorists who might be traveling this road...

Life is just a little different out here in 'dem woods, now, ain't it? Traveling to work can be such an adventure!

The moral of this story is: "Do not covet (or hit) thy neighbor's ass."

. . . and life goes on.


Just a plug here, for my very favorite college marching band! Other great songs performed by the Ohio University Marching 110, "Long Train Runnin'" and, one of my other favs, "Ain't Been Good".

Enjoy the greatest of ALL Ohio college bands by buying one of their CDs, which can be found here: The Ohio University Marching 110!

Friday, September 21, 2007

You have GOT to be kidding me!?!?!

BULL#(*$!

I can NOT believe what I just read here Mattel Apologizes to China Over Recalls.

How in the world does something like this take place? We can NOT be too careful in watching over Chinese imported goods, and to APOLOGIZE to China for them for sending US defective, tainted, dangerous goods is just the height of stupidity.

Mattel: I have news for you, I am NOT buying ANYTHING with your name on it -- EVER -- PERIOD!

I'm sure I won't hurt your stock too much, but you are "just full of it"!

Apologize if you make a mistake, sure, that is the American way, but what is CHINA doing about the boy who died from the lead poisoning; further, what is CHINA doing about the kids who have been harmed but aren't exhibiting any of the signs -- YET?!

MATTEL, you just don't get it!

Looks to me like China is just too smug for their own good. They have the labor force, and they darned well know it... they WILL keep sending us crap, and we (if we, as a nation, don't wisen up) will continue to do business with them (which makes us even more stupid)!

Personally, I am taking a PRIVATE stand -- if a product is NOT made in the US -- I am simply not buying it.

If I have to make my own things, then so be it!

Um... can we say WAKE UP CALL?
According to the article printed by The Chicago Tribune Online:

"Tests had found that lead levels in paint in recalled toys were as high as 110,000 parts per million, or nearly 200 times higher than the accepted safety ceiling of 600 parts per million."

HELLO?

And Mattel says, "Sorry"?

PLEASE!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

"Proudly Made in the USA" -- is this only a DREAM?

Ok, I am all up for "free-trade" and an open-market, but really, I have to be very honest, I am just sick to death of seeing EVERYTHING that I touch in a store made EVERYWHERE ELSE -- but the United States. I'm really angry that I have NO CHOICES anymore.

If I go into Elder-Beerman, J.C. Penney's, Fashion Bug, Sears, anywhere... it's ALL made somewhere else. Now, having said that, I am careful how I spend my money, and I will duck into Wal-mart or Sam's Club for basics, but let's "get real" here: (Forgive me Dr. Phil, but that is a great expression!) Sam Walton FOUNDED his company on the "American made" concept, or so I thought!

Why is nearly everything in his stores (God rest his soul) now made in: Bangladesh, Pakistan, Guatalahara, China, Guatamala, or... "where ever"? And, that list just goes on and on.

THINK ABOUT IT:

Ok, so you need a dish rag or a bath towel, right? You buy the darned thing at like "10 dish cloths (or wash cloths) for $5.00" but the darned things unravel and fall apart in no time at all. They look good (albeit "flimsy"), and they may last for like a month or something -- but what's with that? Why even bother anymore? They have to be replaced all too often, and that's using a washing machine on a delicate cycle in cold water! Back in the old days, women used to use washboards, and our stuff held up over time!

Now, this latest TRAGEDY (and SHAME ON THE U.S.) is all of the CRAP that is coming in from China. Look at the toys that are poisoning our CHILDREN! Doesn't anyone care anymore? Apparently not as long as that stock is up on the trading floor. We Americans are to blame! We wanted a cost-savings, and we have risked our children's health... and their futures... and OUR ECONOMY to get it (my granma used to say "Be careful what you ask for!"). Yes, we are further paying the price by losing our jobs, but it's all Past Tense and it's all done, now, isn't it? Once the mills have closed up they aren't just going to magically re-open in a week.

We've lost so much ground -- even here in my small town. Here, we used to have The U.S. Shoe Corporation, WearEver, but this city's industrial/manufacturing base is just barely hanging in there. Mead/MeadWestVaco has been bought/sold or renamed countless times; Kenworth is still here (thank God!), but too frequently they undergo "layoffs." Our unemployment rates in this area: Ross, Pike, and Vinton counties are some of the highest in the state. RCA/Thompson Consumer Electronics is gone from Pickaway county, and their building remains vacant, and partially torn down, but in favor of what? DuPont is still around, though, I think.

But "we" don't care, now, do we? As long as we import those video games, we are content to sit at home satisfied that "we got it on sale" and, worse, we unwind from a long day at work from a service/retail-based job (this information is specific to my county, where wages are ridiculously low all while we are eating junk/fast food)... and the beat goes on. God! Even our food supply is at risk! APPLE JUICE (bought at Wal-Mart) IS IMPORTED FROM CHINA/GUATALMALA! What's wrong with that? Oh, look at the Chinese and what they serve their OWN people! Most recently in the news: CARDBOARD! (Time & CNN). Now, what about the tainted fish, which was in the news not that long ago? (USAToday). Why NOT buy Chinese (and other) substandard food/products? We've already proved we will settle for ANYTHING!

We get our jeans from Walmart, where they were imported from Pakistan, and we've become complacent... but, hey, "WE GOT A GOOD DEAL!"

I digress... excuse me, but, IT IS TIME TO TAKE BACK WHAT IS OURS! I have decided that I am NOT going to compromise my position anymore. I WANT and I NEED "quality American-made products" -- and I will search to high heaven, if I need to, to find them.

It's not hard, thanks to Google or Yahoo. Come on, let's not settle for second-rate merchandise (at best!). Let's not let our economy go any further down the sewer lines... our unemployment rates are way too high and our jobs ARE going overseas, but what are we going to do about it?

When I call a business, an American-based business, I FULLY EXPECT MY ACCOUNT TO BE SERVICED IN ENGLISH! I am an English teacher, and I do not have a bias against foreign nationals, at all! I have many, many friends from the far corners of the world, but THEY LEARNED to speak the language, properly, when they chose to move here!

Fellow Americans, we HAVE BEEN "sold out", and WE have "sold out" by not speaking up and BY ALLOWING "our corporations" to "shop for cheaper labor" -- all to save a few dollars in the short-term? Is it too late to recover from this madness?

It's just wrong. All of it. Why are we building up other countries and creating new business relationships overseas? Why are WE UN-employed / UNDER-employed? Why are WE without health insurance? What are OUR children doing without? How is "the Middle Class American" receiving any benefit, other than getting a good price on whatever gadget is currently in vogue? I've had enough! Have you?

Stop the madness. FIND and BUY the "American-made product" -- and let's get this country back to where we used to be -- one step at a time, one day at a time, one product at a time, and it all begins with you and how you choose to spend YOUR MONEY.

A SUGGESTION:
Return the imports and ask for a refund, EXPLAIN WHY, and then, go to one of the websites below, or conduct your own searches, and resolve to buy American-made!

EXAMPLE:
After the birth of my second daughter, I needed some new clothes that would fit, but yet look nice (not always synonymous, let me tell you). I want my clothes to last, and I demand QUALITY WELL-MADE items. Have you ever really looked at "the stuff" on the rack in the stores? Even the nicer stores offer the same imported "crap." Check out the seams, and you will see "the imported stuff" has ravelings, shoddy workmanship, second-rate material, and these products too frequently have loose threads, flimsy fabric, and not all that long ago, fabrics that were imported from India made the news for catching on fire way too easily!

LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION!

Yesterday, I returned the shirts that I had purchased from J.C. Penney, and when the clerk asked me the reason for a return, I told her, ""Really, four shirts for less than $50 is a fair price, but to be brutally honest, they are "Made in Vietnam" and I WANT to buy American made items. I should have checked the tag, honestly, before I bought them, but with a fussy two month old baby in tow, I was in a hurry." Maybe if the shop-keepers keep getting that message, maybe, just maybe, management will listen. Regardless, from here on out, I'm buying American!

Today, I needed some new clothes for work, and I found some here at American Apparel. I took my immediate refund from Penney's, and I will apply it to my online order of shirts that are coming in "Next Day Delivery" from American Apparel. I can't wait to get this first order!

GETTING STARTED:
Look into the websites I've presented below, which are listings of "American-made" online stores... and let's take "Proudly Made in the USA" back to more than just a dream and an archaic phrase that advertisers haven't worked in years! Let's make all of this a reality!

BETTER YET!
Guess what? I'm saving gas money by not having to travel all around town looking for American-made items that just can't be found in my city anymore, and I am saving a ton of time, too.

WEBSITES THAT CAN MAKE YOUR SEARCH JUST A LITTLE EASIER:

1. Made in the USA

2. The Union Shop

3. Still Made in the USA

Are ya with me?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

South Beach Diet "shenanigans" GRRRRRRR!

Honestly, I commute 100 miles a day, and I'm a high school teacher. I hate cooking, and I hate shopping even more. I have "simple tastes." I do not know, or even care, what some of these ingredients are that I see listed in the recipes for the meals of the day. I live in a small town, and let's face it, some of this stuff isn't even available.

I've lost weight with Weight Watchers before, and except for the weights and measures (or exchanges), really, it was a pretty simple diet to follow, and I lost 40 pounds in a little under three months. With WW, almost anything could be substituted.

I chose to sign-up for a trial offer of this South Beach Diet because I had heard so many positive things about it, but honestly, I can't see this diet working for me at all. Even if I weren't disgusted with all the "wierd stuff" that is listed on my shopping list, the lists are SO LONG that it would cost a small fortune to purchase and it would take way too long to find all of that stuff. I just HATE walking around in the grocery store to even find wheat germ (different stores really hide that stuff!). In short, I'd bet it'd take at least an hour to find all the stuff on my suggested meal plan's shopping list.

I have simple tastes and no time (or interest) to fool around with whatever Tempeh, Shallots, or whatever all that other 'wierd stuff' is...

Why can't I just get someone to be available on weekends here so that I can just cancel this WHOLE THING (I signed up for all the "trial offer" specials). Better yet, since I decided to get all of this online, why can't I just as easily say "forget the whole thing" and CANCEL online?

By the time my credit card gets hit with all of the trial offers I had signed up for, which have "four week minimum commitment" requirements, I won't even be able to AFFORD to go shopping for all the "wierd stuff" that these daily meals require in the first place!

I'm VERY disappointed, and I AM going to have ribs and a beer for lunch this afternoon, and ALL of it is "cilantro and shallot and tempeh"--free!

PS: In the interests of trying to keep an "open-mind" (but NOT "open-wallet" on this website), I HAVE contacted my specially assigned dietician (who is costing me $2.99 a week for my introductory period).

Let's just see what happens...

Skeptically yours,
"That meat and potatoes girl in Ohio"