Sunday, December 27, 2009

Is Bargain Shopping Worth the Trip?

As I shopped to get ready for the holidays; gifts for friends and families, home decorating items and of course for self, I tried to manage my funds so that it stretched as far as it could go. I don't as a rule skimp on gifts. I will get a gift that I feel like giving but I will skimp on things that are for me and for home goods for example. I went out to get some items for decorating and freshening up the rooms but went bargain shopping for them. Do you really get a bargain with the discount stores or just shoddy job-lots and aggravation?

I bought a sheet set at a discount store thinking it will be a good buy. It didn't say irregular or 2nd rate or anything like that on it. These are supposed to be deep discounted items from large department stores that are sold in this place. The sheet was in a nice package, not my usual brands, but it seemed fine. The package was in tact and with the size printed on it, a queen sized sheet. I was happy with the find and took it home to use for the holiday.

As I cleaned and got ready to make the bed, I gleefully opened the packet of new sheets. The color was a nice compliment to the rest of the room so, yay for me, a good deal! Well, it was a good deal until I got ready to put the fitted sheet on the bed.

You know how you open out the sheet and throw it in the air to open out and fall on the mattress. Well, this sheet didn't open out to the size of a queen bed. It was the size of a cot, maybe a baby's crib mattress size. I have never seen seen such. Imagine my dismay and anger. I need this now?! I don't have time to come back to this task. The holiday is looming and I have other chores to do. I had to pull something out of the closet.
I will have a return trip to that store. Is bargain shopping worth the trip or should you prepare for a two trip deal?

So I ask you; did I get a bargain or did I get a lemon? Can we really trust these cut rate stores to truly give us a correct item or are they all irregular or second rate things. Now it will cost me a trip back to the store, aggravation to demand a refund as I do not want store credit. Fool me once, buddy..... that's it! This is already over seven days since I bought the sheets so that's some arguing as it is over their return time frame. I might have to take some other item as an exchange which might possible be a waste of money.

I guess you can find a bargain and you can find an egg or lemon in these stores. Sadly, this time, which is my jolly happy time, I got a rotten egg. I guess I will bargain shop for things that are out of a wrapper that I can see and inspect thoroughly before I buy to make it worth the trip. I hope all of your holiday shopping went well!

Friday, December 25, 2009

A Christmas Time Reflection. Merry Christmas 2009

As the holiday gets in full swing and the season change to winter my mood is nostalgic of Christmastime of yester-year and the hope of another good Christmas. As Christmas 2009 is here and fuel our remembrances and celebrations, I would like to share a reflection that is the mantra of the time. Jesus is the reason for the season. This sounds like a cliche and maybe it is, but I think that it is important to have an understanding of what Christmas means and an application of what it means and ought to mean.

Even for the most devout agnostic the focal point or reason for a celebration is the knowledge and belief that we prepare and celebrate or find significance in reckoning the special or supreme being. A Being that is worthy of recognition and acknowledgement and celebration.

For those who believe in the Christ child's supremacy and goodness in spreading his everlasting arm to protect and guide us will celebrate him.
While we do the Hallmark thing and react to the ego and the one-up-man ship of coveting all of the newest items and indulge ourselves and friends and families, we must remember that Jesus is the reason for the season and honor Him. As we reflect on this we should try to focus on the truths that he has taught us and use them to guide our activities and our behaviour. This lesson from our reflection should also guide us everyday of our lives.

Jesus Christ is a gift to us, not because we are deserving, but because he is love. We should therefore take the lessons he has taught us and be more like him. We should strive to be a gift to others, not just give of ourselves (from our purses). We should be kind to each other, care deeply for each other and be willing to forgive freely out of love and care. This I think is the way to celebrate Jesus and Christmas. Let us thank Him for a new day and another year of life! Let us thank Him for his tender mercies and His grace. Let us thank Him by caring for each other.

Merry Christmas everyone, May God continue to bless you and keep you safe and in love. Be a gift to others and your rewards will be great! May your christmastime reflection bring you peace.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

What is Corneal Ulcer

Although this is the season to be jolly, I have not had a jolly time so far because of encounters with ill health. Well, I told you about the dental care issue and now we've encountered an eye problem. Yeah, from teeth to eyes. This time it's a problem from contact lenses. I guess we should all pay attention to our health and wellness and make that our focus for a jolly happy holiday season.

Contact lens is a corrective, cosmetic, or therapeutic lens usually placed on the cornea of the eye. They are used in place of eye glasses for corrective purpose. Some contact lenses are used for cosmetic purposes and are deliberately colored to alter the appearance of the eye. Some lenses now have a thin surface treatment which is a UV coating.

I spent Friday morning, from the wee hours to mid day, in the ER with a kid with severe eye pain. This was very weird because it's not a whole lot you can do to get relief. Besides taking pain killers, what do you do? Hot compress, cold compress, eye wash? what?! I will tell you that it was quite an experience seeing and hearing the cry and moan of pain in the eye and I didn't know what was going on.

I guess when you hear about a headache, back ache, tooth ache and other pains you understand excruciating pain but the eye...its weird. I know the eye can really hurt. Ever got hit in the eye with a basket or baseball, a stick or poked by a finger by accident? Man o man what a killer. It seems that the pain lessens and goes away after a while, most often. In this case the eye was watery, red, ultra sensitive to light, a little swollen and extremely painful. She had complained with these symptoms over a week ago but they subsided with the application of eye drops and rest, she thought. This time, late on Thursday they started again and she made an appointment with her eye doctor for Friday afternoon. She couldn't hold out that long.

This has a name. Corneal Ulcer. What is corneal ulcer you ask? It is truly an eye emergency situation. Oh yeah a blister on the eyeball and in this case due to wearing contact lenses. Bummer! This kid lives in the contact lenses. I don't know if she really takes the best care of the lenses or her eyes, but any way. Recently her eye doctor told her she is developing dry eyes and recommended some drops for her to use. This is such a horrible timing for her as well. This was the finals and final projects week for her. She was not only in pain from the eye problem but worried that she won't be able to complete her work that was due in a few days.

The ER Doc told us he saw a spot on her eye but didn't give a diagnosis at first. He gave her some Tylenol 3 and put some drops in the eye that gave her some relief. The pain was so severe she had to get a needle before she got relief. I was relieved. My goodness! it was one helpless feeling and one pitiful sight. We were referred to the hospital Eye Clinic for further assessment and treatment so we sat in the exam room with the lights out, for hours, waiting for the eye clinic to open. The Ophthalmologist told us that it was corneal ulcer. He could see a small spot on the cornea and it is caused by a combination of bacteria from the contacts and dry eyes. He prescribed antibiotic drops that we would administer every 2 hours for 2 days and then every four hours after that. He also gave an ointment to use twice a day and some very potent pain pills to take as needed for the pain.

We were discharged with the treatment plan of rest, she couldn't do anything else anyway, but he also cautioned her not to look at anything intently, like reading watching TV etc, for two days and no computer work. We had to visit the eye clinic again in three days.

The treatment was very effective. She was improving. We had to continue the drops on the same schedule as before and see him again in 3 days. She was able to open her eyes more, the pain was way, way less but the redness was still over a big area of the eye. She still had pain in and over the eye. On the next visit, the Doc reduced the frequency of the drops to three times a day and set up another visit in four days. The redness is almost gone and she is doing much, much, better. She is now trying to get her reports done for school. Hmmmm, I hope the visits will end after this next visit or get pushed for months down the road.

The moral of the story is this. Try to keep things out of your eyes. If your vision is impaired use eye glasses. There are all kinds of frames out there that are fashionable, chic and vogue for all price ranges and looks. If you are opting for contact lenses be very careful. Pair them up with a pair of glasses and reduce the length of time you keep those contacts in. Be very certain to wash your hands before you touch the lenses and the eye. Use plenty of fresh contact solution.
Always, always, always get plenty of rest, eat balanced healthy meals and see your eye care professional regularly.

Take the quiz and get more information on contacts and on protecting your eyes. Take care of your eyes and avoid corneal ulcers and other eye problems, you only get one pair!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Give Dental Care Products for the Holidays

I got to thinking that we may all want to give gifts of dental care items this holiday because oral hygiene is important and protects your kisser. Since I've been talking about toothbrushes that last two posts, let's look at the other items that are essential in oral hygiene. Oral health requires a process of cleaning, flossing, regular professional care and a good diet. Mouth wash and rinses are a part of the regime for many people.

Here is a list of the items and some brands that I have used over the years and maybe partial to. I was surprised to see the many and various herbal and 'natural' tooth paste, floss and mouth washes. There are products for pets, you know cats and dogs. There are particular products for sensitive teeth, types of enamel, pregnancy, people with diabetes and of course children. I will be giving dental care products for the holidays. Count on electric toothbrushes and other items will be under my tree this holiday season!

Here is the list.

Toothpaste is a paste or gel dentifrice used with a toothbrush to clean and maintain the aesthetics and health of teeth. Toothpaste is used to promote oral hygiene: it can aid in the removal of dental plaque and food from the teeth, aid in the elimination and/or masking of halitosis and deliver active ingredients such as fluoride or xylitol to prevent tooth and gum disease (gingivitis). Although I've grown up on a combination of Colgate, Crest and sometimes Aquafresh I find this one interesting, a herbal toothpaste, Vicco. Wikipedia

If you would like to experience various toothpastes and perhaps change your old favorite, check out some brands for free. Visit free toothpaste for free samples of various toothpaste. Be aware that the supplies might be limited or gone by this time.

Flossing is an essential part of the tooth-cleaning process because it removes plaque from between teeth and at the gum line, where periodontal disease often begins. Incorrect flossing can lead to gum tissue damage so floss as directed and with caution. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), you should use dental floss twice daily. dental floss can improve oral health.

national flossing council celebrates National Flossing Day the day after thanksgiving. This year it was celebrated on November 27, 2009 and the theme was flossing with a friend.

Mouthwash is a common and popular product but somewhat controversial. Although it is suggested and maybe recommended and paired with oral hygiene it is not the key recommendation. Mouth washes and or mouth rinses are considered cosmetic or therapeutic but the reviews have not been stellar in terms of the value and the claims. You can certainly get temporary fresh breath, studies showed that freshness may last about 10, and some fluoride protection and bacteria reduction from mouth washes but results have not been outstanding.

According to Wiki, mouthwash or mouth rinse is a product used to enhance oral hygiene. Antiseptic and anti-plaque mouth rinse claim to kill the bacterial plaque causing caries, gingivitis, and bad breath. Anti-cavity mouth rinse uses fluoride to protect against tooth decay. Wikipedia

Again there are several brands and formulations and of course 'natural' ones too. I find this one interesting, Toms of Maine .

I still can feel the burning and that horrid taste of Listerine of yesteryear. You know the one grandpa and grandma had. Oh man it was torture. This one pictured here is my Listerine. The kids used Crest but they also use the Listerine too.
So the take away message here is this; remember a balance diet, regular brushing, flossing and visit to your dental professional is key to a healthy beautiful and winning smile and long happy life!

Here's a chance to win free dental care. Click on the following link to for a chance to win free dental care by making a pledge with Sonicare.

Smile! You should give dental care products for the holiday too. Feel free to send some my way too.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Choosing an Electric Toothbrush

Since my last post on dental hygiene, tooth brushes and gum diseases, I've done some more research to get a better sense of what I could do or change in my own dental hygiene practices. Naturally, I thought about getting an electric tooth brush, not because I have any dental issues at this time, but because I want to improve or keep up with the Joneses on this one. After all without good health what do we have. The challenge is how to choose an electric toothbrush from the numbers and types on the market today.

There are several claims that the electric brush is best. I searched the ADA site and I didn't quite see that there although the site had sections of FAQs on tooth brushes etc. The Associated Content website was quite robust with information on teeth cleaning and products. They had an entry, 10 reasons you Might Need or Want an Electric Toothbrush which I found interesting. I didn't find anything earth shaking or that crucial on the list. I think the most important and the first item is dexterity issues. Mostly the reasons are fun, comfort, practicality, ease and for a unique experience. Other links offer other ideas and reasons to switch. I guess they are all important and sensible reasons why we should want to use the electric brush but they don't really knock the manual brushes out of the arena.

We always seek to do better, do more and work harder to be the best that we can be. This also applies to our health. Since the electric tooth brush is the best tool for oral health then, hey, I want one! There are quite a few brands on the market to choose from and two front runners according to the reviews. It seems you can achieve a good result from choosing the less expensive models with proper usage. Of course, the more expensive the more features and perks they will come with.

At this point I like the Sonicare Flexcare RS9300.

Which electric tooth brush do you have or will you choose? Since this is the season for giving..... yes, thank you, I'll accept a gift!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

How to protect your smile

I got involved in a discussion about oral hygiene and bleeding gums the other day. I am amazed at the number of items and claims of dental care things on the market. I am even more amazed that a dentist told his patient with bleeding gums to use an electric tooth brush to make it better. A dentist I'm not but I know that gum diseases can arise and can be resolved but to 'just' say use an electric brush instead seems a far cry from professional advise for this issue.

Granted electric brushes have been around for a long time as is gum diseases. Many believe it is a better way to clean our teeth and keep our mouths healthy. The electric brush was never and perhaps still not common place in many households. So does a lot of people live with unresolved gum disease because they have no electric tooth brush? Come on doc, there has to be a real treatment and process for this patient.

How about talking about proper brushing techniques and frequency, types of tooth paste to use, throw in the flossing and rinsing pieces. Hmmm, maybe scaling, watching diets. How about a brushing demonstration to make sure the technique and timing is right. Some folks might feel insulted by a teeth cleaning demonstration but presented in the right way, it can be very enlightening and appreciated. Besides, a regular tooth brush - depending who you ask - is also a very good means to achieve proper and healthy dental hygiene. After all most of us grew up with brushing with elbow grease and have some awesome smiles and beautiful breath!

The electric or battery powered brushes are not cheap. How do you choose a brush with so many on the market. I understand that that the type of brush to buy wasn't even a part of the recommendation. He didn't name names, you know brands, styles, types. How about education as part of the visit and the treatment plan! Even a video in the waiting room, and directing the patients attention to it, on how to protect your smile could go a long way. I'm wondering if this recommendation was a brush off or just plain arrogance on the part of the dentist in sending folks off to go buy electric tooth brushes to treat their gum problems without proper guidance. This group obviously needed more information and instruction from the "professional." A poor job, Doc!

Hey the holidays are upon us, how about a gift of a dental hygiene kit to protect the smile of your loved ones! Say c-h-e-e-s-e, P-l-e-a-s-e!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Microbiotics for good health, Live!

I came across this lovely picture and information about microbiotics the other day as I tried to find some information on holiday recipes. I didn't stop to read through it at the time but bookmarked it for a later read. The piece popped up today as I logged in to the computer so I decided to look closer at Microbiotics. As I browsed the pages, I realized that it is something I really need to look more closely at. It certainly hit home today after the extensive holiday grubbing that went on here. The fruits and vegetables were part of the fare but certainly not the centerpiece.

As some of us gorge our selves on foods - sweet, delicious, glorious holiday foods, I think we need to reflect on the point that we can get carried away and do things, even as we enjoy them, that can reeve havoc on our lives and our loved ones. It is important that we do the holiday things in moderation and mix it heavily with what we know that is good right and wholesome. I have to do this. I think we just really have to take care of our lives everyday for longevity.

I have to do some re-engineering of my lifestyle now that I have absorbed this information on Microbiotics. This is an approach to life and living not just a kind of diet. The philosophy is that by combining quality foods, enjoyment and appreciation of life, each other, the environment, spirituality and trust or faith, we can live happier, healthier, long lives. These are interconnected and interdependent forces in the natural world that give rise to each other thereby creating a balanced way of living, the yin and yang.

So what I know now, well I've always known but would brush off and chalk it up to the holidays, festivities and celebrations. Part of the festivities is to provide a lot of food. We tend to over eat, swallowing without or just barely chewing and loading up on processed, greasy foods and say, ahhh it's sooo good! This is a no-no and gotta go! We must include healthier food options and take and eat in moderation and without the chase.

Now I really must let those habits go. The mega pieces of meats and turkey drum sticks, with a drizzling of veggies have to be reversed so that I will continue to live, love, laugh with my family and friends for a very long and healthful time.

I am making a case about microbiotics and behaving as if it is a new phenomena, but its not. This has been practiced since the Incas and the Han Dynasty. More and more we hear about whole foods and see whole food stores and whole grain products promoted but access is still a problem for many. As a society and community we need to 'normalize' healthy foods and balanced lifestyles to our day to day life. There are broader implications for society such as education, resources, access and supports as well.

You my friend should take a closer look at microbiotics, maybe also look at the "man in the mirror", like me, and make a change. Check out the information and recipes here. Make a move to a balanced way of living!

Let me know what you think about microbiotics if this is new to you. For those of you who are practitioners, please share some tips and/or advice with us.
Here's to a happier, healthier you! Happy Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Saturday, November 21, 2009

How do I choose a Home Phone Service

Telephones are so plentiful these days but I am having such a hard time choosing a phone service for my home. I guess it is not really hard to find a phone service or carrier it is the cost of the thing. I think that we are spending a huge chunk of our budget on telecommunication and I can't afford it anymore. We all have cell phones - blackberries, smart phone, sidekick etc and actually use more than one phone carrier. I need to fix that set up too. But anyway, the thing is that with all of these communicating devices which we use all the time, why am I insisting on maintaining a dedicated home phone line?

Gone are the days when we need the phone lines or land lines to make calls or faxes, or to get on-line, which so consume our lives these days. Actually, I just like to have the old stand by phone to reach out and touch somebody. I know that the phone companies are concerned about the drastic reduction in the number of people electing to cancel their land lines. This is actually having a negative effect on the cost of the cellular system by way of the excessive amount and number of taxes on the cell phone bill. Right now I am concerned about getting a phone service that I can afford to keep that house phone on.
As I surfed the web for information and services, I couldn't decide between the viable choices, price wise, that I came across. I hope you guys can offer some assistance. I looked at the Magic Jack system, Vonage and Time Warner. Right now I am dying under the cost of the Verizon system I have. Are there more sensible options out there?

Here is where you come in. Do you have a land line at home? Who is the service provider? Is it a reasonable or economical system?
Have you any information or opinion on:

Magic Jack ?

Time Warner Cable Digital Phone service?


Which would you recommend and why?

I hope you will take a minute to leave your comment.

Thanks in advance!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans Day 2009

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Today is a special day that we set aside from the usual hustle and bustle to appreciate, recognize and to say thanks to those brave men and women who have given their lives for our country. The sacrifice of a family of their loved one to go serve for our safety and security is appreciated. I myself am very appreciative of the folks who have taken the bold and brave steps to join the military forces to be on the frontlines of national security. I salute you all!!

As we see all of the ceremonial events and proclamations and commerative events it gives us pride in having such bravery and selflesness of the men and women who serve. We thank God for all of you and especially for those who will return home and continue to enrich our lives. For those gone on, we pray that you will rest in peace. As a society we should encourage and demand a better program and compensation for the Vets as they return home and resume family life. Too many stories are played and re-played on the air about the lack of services and supports for our Vets. The quality of medical care, housing, jobs and re-entry support services seems to leave them un-rewarded and feeling un-apppreciated.

They have done us proud. They have served us well. It is only right and fitting for us as a society and for our government to make serving these our heros a priority and care them well.
Let us all share our love and appreciation to the Vets by giving what we can and by lifting our voices and our votes so that our Vets are provided for as they have protected us.
I thank you!

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Ladies Room discussion

I rushed into the ladies room at work early afternoon to relieve myself after a long morning of presentation. I walked into a robust conversation about what parents teach their children to call their body parts. I don’t usually tarry in the rest room for various reasons but mostly the odor. I stay long enough to complete the task at hand and scamper out. This conversation was one I would have enjoyed getting into but I made my escape as per usual. I have mixed feeling on the topic and some fond memories of some of the names or terms I’ve heard for the private parts.

A triad was standing around the sink area fully engaged in this discussion. It seems that they were all talking at the same time. At this point they were trying to make the connection between the names used and the part or function of the part to the anatomically correct names. What is pee pee? How did they come up with pee pee one of the women asked? If anything it should be u, u for urine, she said. That comment got a chuckle from everyone. They delved into other names and parts as I stood washing my hands. I don’t understand why parents don’t just tell their kids the proper names, said another one of the women. I always told my kids right away the proper names and I think that is the best way, said the third woman. You confuse the kids she continued.

They continued as I left the room seemingly summarizing the discussion exchanging what they thought parents should tell their kids and what they told their kids. They also talked about why it is important to teach children the proper names for body parts, their privates.

As I exited the room I thought that this was a good topic of discussion in the ladies room and else where. Teaching children the correct names could prevent misunderstandings and the potential for abuse. There is also an element of embarrassment in self expression and possible poor self protection. I found research studies that was done in Canada that actually looked at this issue and the various names used. Other informational sources seem to indicate that giving proper names as early as possible is preferred even though there seems to be a split for giving kids both options.

What did/do you teach your kids’ to call their body parts? How did you name them? Do you think that ‘pet’ names for the body parts or baby talk have a negative impact on the child’s development?

Tell me your thoughts.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Is the Recession Over

Is the recession over or am I missing something?

My mom came to visit for the weekend. We are all very happy about that. We didn't expect this visit so we had to plan her into the usual weekend activities of house hold chores, shopping etc. I had a few odds and ends I needed to get from various stores. The weather was good but we thought we would take a trip to the mall since it's enclosed and have many more stores in the same spot or proximity. We didn't have much to spend but we had a few stores in mind. The stores where I know I can get good deals at times and I would be sure to find the items we needed. Notice I said needed. Additionally, we wanted to get dinner so going to an area with options for food was also important. We decided to go to the Garden State Plaza Mall in Paramus New Jersey.

I like that mall because it has a lot of stores and covers the spectrum from high end to variety stores and boutiques, specialty shops and popular chain stores. The issue for me with this mall is that I don't particularly like to pay the toll to get back home. The trip to the mall started out nicely. The afternoon was bright and sunny and the temperature mild.

There was chatter and laughter and also noise from the radio as the kids fooled around in the back. Traffic flow was good until we got on Route 17 half way to the exit to the mall. We were wondering what was causing the traffic delay. We speculated that there must be an accident, a car had mechanical problems, traffic light malfunction, something.

We inched along until we got closer to the exit and had a view of a side of the parking lot at the Plaza Mall. The lot was full like we've seen it at Christmastime. We started to ask each other and check to see if the Mall had some give aways or mega sale or some special event. None of us in our vehicle heard about any special sale or event that should bring out such a crowd since everyone is crying out for money. Well, we didn't have money to shop willy-nilly or even keep up with essentials, but let me tell you the parking lots were full all around the facility. I was amazed at the sight of so many cars and couldn't wait to enter the place to see what I could get for what I had in my purse or less.

After riding around for about 25 minutes looking for parking, we decided to sit around the areas by the entrance to store and follow folks as they leave the store heading to their vehicles. We got around to the Nordstrom's entrance and decided to wait. We got lucky after waiting for about 5 minutes.

We got into the mall with anticipation and good thoughts. Well, the stores had sale signs posted, 15, 25, 30, 40% off. There was a flurry of people in the stores and the mall but I didn't see the bargains or the urgency that brought all those people out to the mall. Did someone give a rebate or a stimulus check and forgot to send me one? Hey that's not fair!

I was able to get the things we went for. I must say I got and saw some good prices for a few things. The kids made out like a bandit with grandma. There were some things at better prices than I've seen recently but I couldn't even pick them up. Folks were hustling about with bags, and bags and with happy smiling faces. I came out with the bags of the things I needed to get and no more and managed to hold the $8 for the tolls to get home.

I was happy to see that people are beginning to shop and get into the holiday season or just enjoy the fruits of their labor or enjoy life. For me, I have not gotten on that wind fall or coat tail of the infusion of cash into the purses. Sadly, me and my household is still struggling on a 2003 salary and resources.

Imagine how deep my recession is. OR, does anyone knows where the next wind fall is coming from? Can you give me a heads up? I really, really need a break!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Andy Rooney's Advice to the Airlines

Part of my Sunday evening routine is to watch 60 Minutes on CBS at 7pm. I have been doing this for years. I've lost track of the number of years. I would block out the hour to watch the show. Truth be told, these days I don't always block out the time or watch the whole program. I would however tune in for what I call the ticking highlight at the beginning of the program to see what will be covered. I would decide if I would stay for the entire program or just check back for Andy Rooney's segment, my highlight of the program. Many times it's all Andy!

This past Sunday, I just caught Andy Rooney's segment and was very amused. This is not unusual for me but the topic was very timely. I have been going on about the changes in the airline practices and I am preparing for holiday travels and ranting. The title of Sunday's segment was Andy Rooney Has Some Advice For The Airlines To Make Flying More Pleasurable. I hope they were watching and will take heed.

I was amused because I have been on this kick of the airline industry foolishness. My family travels a lot. Not always by air but I always keep my eyes out for a good deal on air fair because air travel is faster. We are a real hurry up and get there kind of a group. More and more these days, the policies and practices of the airlines get more ridiculous. I still don't understand why we now have to pay to check a piece of luggage when it was included as part of the cost of the trip and the fare in the past.

What happened recently that caused checking a piece of luggage to add such expense to the airlines that they need to add this fee. If there should be charges, I think it should be fees paid to the consumer for damaged baggage. Samsonite's are strong but they take a beating even now with the additional charges. Do they want us to travel without necessities or our luxuries if we so choose to carry them? They still have the same restriction on the number of pieces and the weight allowances. What's changed? Level of greed?! I don't get it!

There are so many other issues and concerns with airline travel these days, not to mention safety or dangers, but we still use them or rely on them because we all have to or want to go some place else and may not have all day to get there. With airline travel, you can count on delays getting on board and take off, cancellations, late arrivals and now no food or refreshment. The food part may not be so bad though because even when they ask you to pay for the food it's horrible if not just down right nasty. What the hell!

Yes Andy, a lot of people complain about the airlines, like me, because they get you angry with the nonsense they give you.

For those of you who may have missed the segment on Sunday, or if you enjoy Andy Rooney's rantings, here is the piece again.

Yes they could do better all around!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Cactus Plants and Flowers

I went to Home Depot today to pick up a couple of household items - cleaning supplies, light bulbs and some replacement door knobs - small stuffs. Anytime I go to Home Depot, anytime of year, I check out the garden store. I just love plants, flowers etc., and they always have such wonderful offerings.

As we left the payment area, I glanced to my right I noticed plants, hanging plants and thought, gee I should go so if they have any deals. To my surprise and amazement they have a large display table of cacti. Big ones, little one, flowering one, spiney ones. Oh my, what an awesome sight! Can you guess; I absolutely love cactus plants. I have and have had a bunch of them for years now. My friends and family keeps me well supplied. I've been on this cactus appreciation for over 15 years. They are amazing and wierd, very easy to care for and just beautiful.

As I revel in the sight, I had flashbacks of the many cacti that I have had over the years. I couldn't help but to talk about it here. As I prepared to tell you about some of my favorite plants and flowers, I of course did my internet research just so I would give you accurate and useful information. I wanted to make sure that you could appreciate, if you are not as familiar with cactus and maybe fall in love with them too. I think they could become one of your favorites too.
I found so much information and organizations and networks on and about cactus. There is so much that I didn't even know, but I know I love them.

So what are they you ask? Well, The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition 2008 lists cactus as any plant of the family Cactaceae, a large group of succulents found almost entirely in the New World. A cactus plant is conspicuous for its fleshy green stem, which performs the functions of leaves (commonly insignificant or absent), and for the spines (not always present) of various colors, shapes, and arrangements. The plants vary from small, round globes to epiphytes, vines, and large treel like forms. The reduced leaf surface, the enlarged fleshy stem, which is well fitted to store water.

All cacti are succulents, but not all succulents are cacti. Simply put, what separates cacti from succulents are the organs that produce the spines, and some other characteristics specific to fruit formation, differences between dicots and monocots and a few other differing charcteristics. All this stuff, I didn't know and it didn't prevent me from collecting and caring for them. I like all kinds of cactus. I like them flowering or just with spines. A word of caution, be careful of the spines. You should wear a glove when you tend to them as it is very unpleasant to get pricked or get the needles broken into your fingers.

There is an internet mall for cactus. The Cactus Mall website lists information for growers and others, I think, that provides a wealth of information and resources. I like the plant magazine. Every other month members receive the full-color Cactus and Succulent Journal , which is said to be widely regarded as the best and most authoritative periodical on succulent and xerophytic (dry loving) plants. Another great resource on the Mall is Matts Landscape website. Check out his cactus gallery. Its breathtaking!

I hope you will check out the links and go get your cactus!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Jaywalking Men, use the Crosswalks

As I stood at the bus stop yesterday, after exiting the subway at a major hub, 4
lane streets, multiple bus line terminal, mega foot traffic I got annoyed. Annoyed at the foolish things some people do.

There were people, cars, buses, trucks, noise, lights etc., a real busy urban center. As I scanned the scene, my eyes stopped on a group of people, men, walking onto one of the streets amid on coming traffic. You might wonder so what, they need to get to the other side of the street. I guess they did, but here's the thing.
As I said earlier, this is a busy thoroughfare and as such, they have well marked pedestrian crossings, road way markings, traffic signals, lights etc. These guys were crossing from the middle of the block, not at the intersection or marked pedestrian crossing area and into oncoming vehicular traffic. I am making this distinction because in NYC, people traffic can wow you! They are crossing the street; a 4 Lane Street, a wide street with 2 way traffic pattern, as a bus moved toward them, heading to the bus stop at the intersection. Some of us standing at the bus stop gasped at the sight.

The men continue their stroll across, not even attempting to pick up the pace at the sight of the oncoming bus. Ok, so the bus driver stopped. He had to stop, but how silly is that.
When does one stop to think, what if.....
What if the driver' is distracted and not noticed them in the street
What if there's a mechanical failure?
And what if the bus got hit from behind, by accident, propelling it forward and the driver
couldn't hit the brake fast enough.
What if the driver was also a 'daredevil' and kept moving to force their action, intending to stop abruptly, but he wasn't fast enough or the brakes failed.
You see where I'm going with this? No, I'm not paranoid. When you put your self in harms way you not only endanger your self but so many other people. Anything could happen!

It is just absurd for folks to take such chances with their lives and perhaps the lives and livelihood of others. I am always amazed at the things people do and then expect others to accept or share the responsibility for their foolishness. These actions can have such repercussion; everyone pays a part of the cost in some way.

Come on man! Keep that nonsense to your self. There are some things you can take back, correct or endure. Playing with your life and the lives of others and their families is just too expensive. Take the stupid chances to and by yourself if that is your choice. No jaywalking, use the crosswalks!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Rise Up Chicago, Help Will Come

As I did my usual blog visits mid-week, I checked out my friend Sathira latest post, Who should guide the younger generation. After reading it I decided to pen this piece because I had a somewhat relevant discussion with my husband after watching a TV show. The issue we agreed is a lack of parents and elders to influence and control the children, to be simplistic.

We watched a broadcast on CNN about the killings in Chicago. This particular segment was on the killing of an honor student a few days ago. Two community activists from the area were on the show giving their perspective about the issues and the strategies they thought could end or at least improve the conditions there. One of the men felt very strongly that absence of African American professionals in the forefront was a problem. He questioned why these individuals are not seeing the crime spree as a problem or a cause for them to take up or why they are not out in force trying to get a handle on the situation. At this point the speaker’s comments and position got our discussion started.

The situation in Chicago is horrible and unsettling. I am very, very sorry for those families that have lost a loved one in this senseless situation. I think that the outcry and the raising up of force must be heightened within the community and it has to be more than complaining about the absence of some. More people need to demand the attention through their action to help to turn things around. Think about all of the events in history when redress was sought for the various ill of society. Enough people demanded action from the larger community by their outcry and action. This maybe extreme but the movie Death Wish with Charles Bronson comes to mind. Ok, so he was a renegade, vigilante and I am NOT in any way encouraging that response, but people have to say, by their action, I am mad as hell and I am not going to take it any more. I know that the media is picking up on some of the outcry in the communities of Chicago but it needs to be kicked up a few notches.

I understand that when you are broken, dysfunctional, dejected, demoralized and suffering, it hard to muster up the strength and wherewithal to try to fight back. I think that it must happen so that partnerships can be formed or expanded. Not all ‘victims’ will or can actively initiate the fight but the advocates can. So you have the cops doing their jobs and others saying, hey stop, look what you are doing and make a change. This is help and resource that is a catalyst for building that bridge stronger and wider.

I hope that all of the folks in the community – near and far- truly rise up and embrace those who are seeking help and help to influence change and bring the change to town. This must happen for the good of all.