Sunday, September 30, 2012

Google Mixed Feelings

It's a nice enough commercial. Got all the things we like/hope for/dream of, I suppose. Nice house. Happy pretty smiling blonde little girl, all curious and alert and intelligent and well-behaved. Lots of toys. Mother lovingly reading to said child. Did I say lots of toys? They read, not from a book, but from the new Google tablet. In between short passages from Curious George, the child is seen running around, happy and free and well-behaved, playing with things that relate to the story, and of course talking to Grandma on the tablet.

I love Google. Use it all the time. G-mail, Google Chrome, Google Search, Maps, heck my phone has a Google platform. This is not against Google. It's not even against tablets. Heck, I wish I had one. Big time. I have Big Time Tablet Envy. Instead, and I'm struggling to put these feelings into words, I just find the whole commercial to be a very sad statement on reality. I'll try to explain....

I like seeing kids with books. Real books. Yes, tablets in schools make sense. But at home on the couch? Bedtime? Something comforting about BOOKS. Books passed down. Books your Dad read to you and now you read to your kid. Is your kid going to read to THEIR kid from the table you used? SNORT! Hardly. Not in ANY scenario. And then there are libraries. A kid of any economic background can enjoy books so long as there are libraries. There are a lot more kids whose families CAN'T afford tablets than can, I would say. I know we had a good life with enough of most everything, but we would have been hard-pressed to have tablets. And my dad was a teacher. Irony.

And about that perfect house with perfect toys and the perfect back yard. Talk about showing what the typical household in America is NOT right now. Maybe I'm just tired of the "Hey look at this don't you want this if you just buy THIS product you too can have this" messages in this consumer buy-buy-buy society. It's a symptom.. or actually is it the problem? It's a MYTH.

You know, like in the BOOKS?

I don't wish to stop progress. I just wish that it would be tempered with good sense. I wish that we weren't ignoring important issues in our quest to consume everything we see. What are we leaving behind?

WHO are we leaving behind?

By the way, when you Google mixed feelings, you get:

*mixed feelings (about someone or something)
uncertainty about someone or something.

Just FYI.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Instant Kids

I worry. I worry about kids. I don't have any kids, which is good, because I really worry about kids. And if I had kids... well, I wouldn't worry so much about my kids, because it would be likely my kids would not be Instant Kids. Well, they would try, but I would not let them.

We are creating a whole generation of Instant Kids. Kids who think that everything is right there and right at their fingertips and RIGHT NOW, and worst of all, free. Nothing has value when everything is instant and free. The Internet that I too love and use so much is of course responsible for a lot of this. Need some information, a picture, an idea? Look it up. Use it. I'm not saying it's a bad thing... who doesn't love being able to get instant directions instead of getting lost, or looking at a MAP fer' cryin' out loud? Information is a good thing. It's when those expectations branch out into everything else that it gets... undesirable.

How does Mother Nature have a hope against all this instant gratification? TV on demand and available NOW, when I want it. I can't wait, I need it now now now. Microwaves for food with crap in it that our bodies cannot recognize, I don't care I'm hungry I want it now now now. Cook? Bake?? Surely, you jest. Fast food restaurants open all the time. Food in fridge gone bad? So what, I can go to the store now now now and thrown this out and get new. Oh and then I see a fast food joint so I eat there now now now and bring the stuff I bought home and it goes bad too because it wasn't instant enough. Instant oatmeal, instant lunch, instant rice, instant coffee, now now now... Plan ahead? I don't have time! I want it now!

Hey I missed that, can you go back? Sure! no need to pay attention the first time, our DVRs catch it all. Same with music, DVDs, anything. Do I use these things? Of course. But then I remember the Before-time, when, if you missed it, you were SOL. So we paid attention, and we valued experiences, things. We are not raising kids to value anything. Cell phones? I need to call someone now now now. Text. Now. Don't have to wait til you get home to make a call. Get a glass of water. Watch something. You can do that, all of that, now now now.

I'm a part of this society. I have a microwave, of course I do. I have a cell phone, of course I do. I use the internet. Duh, obviously. I am instant, too. But not always. And I lament that these kids will be all Instant. That they will never know how to grown something. Or cook something. Or have to wait for something, so that when something comes along that is worth waiting for, they will not wait, and they will miss out.

We HAVE to teach these kids to wait. To value. To appreciate. I fear, if we do not, we will be lost. THEY will be lost. They will be swallowed in a sea of plastic and they will never have what they should havem what I have...

Appreciation for this world in which I live...

Friday, September 28, 2012

Make the Switch, It's Easy!

More often than not, I stumble across a product that just makes me see red. But then again, you knew that about me already. Imagine my delight when I ran across something that made me happy!

We already use VERY few paper towels, very very few, but with this product, we never have to use a tree-paper towel again! Bambooee. I'm still checking in with them with a few more questions, but so far I like what I see. Bamboo is almost as good in my book as hemp! So why not make these out of bamboo? According to their site, you can wash them around 25 times before they need to go away. Yes. You can throw them in your washer. I'm just bummed I didn't see them at an expo I attended  where they apparently were one of the best new products.

They've ingeniously made them so that you can make the switch with minimal fuss. It's almost... convenient! They put these towels in a roll so you can put them on your existing paper towel holder (something I don't even have, come to think of it). I can't think of a down side.

I am curious as to if the spent sheet is compostable. I'm sure it has to be biodegradable. I wonder what process it takes to make the bamboo into sheets. Are there many chemicals involved? I have an inquiry out to the company, so when I hear, so will you! I have my PeopleTowel in my purse so I don't use paper towels in public restrooms, and now we can completely avoid paper towels in the kitchen.

Of course, I have to think people will find a downside and say it's too much to wash them, what a bother, not convenient to throw them in the wash, or they cost too much, and won't take into account the money they AREN'T spending on paper towels... but as wise people always say, ya can't fix stupid.

Meanwhile, I will await the reply from the company and hope that I am not disappointed in any of their answers. I'll give them a positive for now.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

They Still Make Them

Because we still buy them.

"Scrubbing Bubbles® Fresh Brush® Starter Kit & Caddy makes toilet cleaning easy. Simply use the disposable Fresh Brush® Heavy Duty pads for thorough weekly cleanings and Fresh Brush® Flushables pads for daily use. The Fresh Brush® Heavy Duty toilet cleaner pads clean tough stains like hard water stains, toilet rings, lime scale, rust and more. Our Fresh Brush® Flushables feature active cleaners that work for days to loosen and clear away daily soils and stains. With both types of pad, there's no germy brush to store."

Our good friends at SC Johnson strike again, because, you know, they CARE about your time and your toilet. Here's what you get (need): 

Fresh Brush® Heavy Duty: Great for tough stains. Thousands of scrubby fibers. Just toss in trash.

Fresh Brush® Flushables: Active cleaners that work for days. Great for everyday cleaning. Eliminates odors as it cleans. Fresh Citrus Action™ scent. Flush the germy mess away™

"Just toss in trash"? I know, it's so convenient. I'm guessing it's made of various and sundry plastic stuff. The Flushables? Say what you want about their whatever-biodegradability, there's a lot of packaging involved and resources involved. 

Oh, and what's priceless is that on the TV commercial for these, they suggest using the gel thing on top of all this. Scrubbing constantly still requires use of other chemicals. Funny about that. It's never enough, is it? Just buy more more more. You are not keeping it clean enough. You suck. And your toilet is disgusting. And it will always be disgusting no matter how many times you clean it. Buy more.

Feeding into the fears and phobias to sell products. I wish we'd stop falling for it.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Quaker Oatmeal - Made So Convenient

Uh oh, You know what THAT word means...

Not even sure where I saw these. But... hot cereal, Quaker Oatmeal Real Medleys, in convenient and easy single serve cups, just add hot water. Oh, let me guess. The cups are plastic. Yeah, buddy. Get 'em in a 12-pack so you can REALLY get the plastic out there!

PepsiCo owns Quaker, just in case you didn't know. And, you know, they make this great product just for us! Because they care SO MUCH! They even pin it right on women in their press release: "Today, women are busier than ever before, and in the morning time crunch, a nourishing breakfast is either skipped or sacrificed for food that's convenient, but maybe not as desirable," said Andrew Sutherland, Senior Director of Marketing, Quaker Foods & Snacks North America. "New Quaker Real Medleys are perfect for women who want to start their mornings with a wholesome and delicious oatmeal breakfast that adds a little extra flavor and fun in a convenient, portable cup."

When, oh when, pray tell, are we going to get off the notion that we are SO busy that we have carte-blanche to trash the planet? Are we ever going to realize that this is NOT the thing to do? That actions matter? That if you have/want kids, maybe you should stop trashing their home? That throwing something "away" just means it goes somewhere you don't see? That we can't keep going like this??? I've said it before, I'll say it again: I might give a pass if, with all our busy-busy-busy, we were actually doing anything POSITIVE in the world, or, if with all our time-saving conveniences, we were making the world a better place.... But, news flash... we're so not.

I'll keep pointing out the stupidity and harmfulness of these things til I run out of products.

I don't think I have to worry about running out of products any time soon.

A reviewer on Amazon pointed out that the cups aren't even the #1 or 2 plastic. They are made from 7. & is not easily recycled yet. So... until such time as communities have the wherewithal to recycle #7, where do we think these cups are going? In some *convenient* holding facility to just sit there and collect and wait til the technology is in place and someone really really can't wait to get their hands on them? NO. They are going in landfills and the OCEANS. PERIOD.

Ugh. I'm done, I can't even say anymore about it. It just never ends. I'm completely overwhelmed at the thought of the millions of these cups entering the trash stream for no good reason at all. Can we just stop?

There is so much sugar and so many chemicals in them and calories and crap that they aren't really even that healthy. And boiling hot water in a #7 plastic cup? Let me think about what is leaching into your oh-so-convenient healthy oatmeal.

Think about that, then go get pregnant, and eat more. Then come talk to us when your child has cancer.


Yeah? What's your point?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Just So Far Off the Mark...

Don't even ask me how I get on these mailing lists... because I sure as heck don't know.

In the world of Fabulous New Products in my inbox comes WineStraws. Now, mind you, I am ALL down for reusable straws. I find plastic straws to be one of the Great Scourges and Evils of the Modern Times. Just think about how many millions of straws get used a day. It's staggering. So, naturally, I am intrigued by this product. Glass straws are amazing and I am all over that shizz. Therefore... imagine my disappointment and dismay when I go to this particular website.

WineStraws. Drink Red, Smile White. Err... OK. Just another glass straw, but aimed at the red wine community who fears the all-embarrassing wine-stained teeth, right? Wrong!!! Yes it is aimed at the wine-drinking community almost exclusively, but it's not glass. Nope. For some reason, these wonderful things that are designed specifically to the perfect size to deliver the proper amount of wine to your discerning tongue is made from PLASTIC. Not glass, which is kind of natural with red wine, in my mind anyway, but plastic.

But it's OK!! It's recyclable! It's a high-quality BPA-free and EPA-approved plastic! Oh, and you know what else? It's OK if you don't want to reuse them 'cuz, you know why, 'cuz they're recyclable! They "look" and "feel" like glass, but thank goodness they are plastic, 'cuz you know how you get when you're drinking wine, can't be trusted with actual GLASS... even though you are drinking from a glass... so Heaven forbid you try to use a glass straw, too. That'd be like... wearing zebra stripes with a leopard-print. Unheard-of.

And as for the reusing, it's OK! If you are the type who just cannot stand the thought of having to actually WASH the darn thing and prefer a more convenient lifestyle, they say this: "WineStraws are safe to reuse, just rinse them with some warm water. If you prefer not to re-use your WineStraws just toss them into your recycling bin because they are 100% recyclable."

See? If you really cannot be bothered to rinse your straw with warm water, just toss it. Rinsing something with warm water is SUCH a hassle. I know I have better things to do with MY time. Rinsing. Snort. That's so hard and inconvenient. Rinsing.

How about NOT adding any more plastic into the environment for no good reason? And no, wanting to drink wine after you just bleached your teeth does not constitute a "good reason." Get a frickin' glass straw if you are so concerned. Or don't drink red wine. They make white stuff, too, you know.

These were invented by a 30-something mother of two boys who apparently cannot live without her red wine. Good idea, bad execution. She has KIDS, and she blithely irresponsibly and with no regard introduces more plastic into their future. "But it's OK! It's BPA-free and EPA-approved plastic!" You know what ELSE was EPA-approved in the recent past? BPA plastic.

WAKE UP. Plastic isn't safe, it never goes away, and we sure as hell do not need it to drink our red wine. I am all for wine (I'm drinking it now!) and I am ALL for white teeth (your hair would stand on end if I told you the Tale of my Teeth and the money involved...), but can we please Stop Doing It Wrong?



Do you get those Groupons or Living Social deals? I do; I often get great deals on stuff. Heck, we are getting a great won car ride to LAX for our vacay for less than it would take to park! They offer a lot of good deals. Good for us, good for the businesses, good for the economy.

But, then I saw this one for a mani/pedi. Now, I really have never had a professional manicure. And NO ONE touches my feet except my husband. (There are reasons.) But I decided to look at it anyway. Curiosity and all that. I basically consider manicures a waste of money (and heinous chemicals). And as far as frequent manicures... really? My nails generally look pretty good. They are clean and bright and healthy and I try to keep them shaped, I've even had people think they weren't real because they are in kind of nice condition. They are getting a little ridgy as I get older, so I thought maybe a splurge was in order. (Of course that was before I got fired the other day... but that's a WHOLE other thing!!!) Anyway, something made me click it to check it out.
Maybe slightly unnecessary?
Here was the text: "Our primitive ancestors enjoyed very few creature comforts -- no reality TV shows, no social networks, and certainly no nail polish. Luckily, we've evolved since then: You can make unsightly nails ancient history with today's deal from [XXX] Salon, which gets you a Classic manicure and pedicure for $30..." regularly $60, I guess...
Um. Seriously? "Evolved"? I can think of a million examples of how "our primitive ancestors" we much better humans than are we. Reality TV shows probably top the list. (Honey Boo-Boo? Just kill me, and make it swift.) I do admire pretty nails at times and will definitely compliment someone in public, you know, maybe make them smile if they are not... show them I see them (I've surely been ignored and it's nice when someone SEES you, you know?)... a little tiny ice-break or conversation starter... but, yeah. I get it that they are a nice thing people like to do for themselves to feel good or treat themselves a little, here and there, easily. But, I've never sat quite right with the acrylics that have been proven to be bad, or the constant chemicals, or the horrible stories of infections etc... Could some of these chemicals we've been freely exposing everyone to be causing problems in children? In us? I'm all for feeling good about yourself, And I'm not saying we all have to walk around with dirt from the garden under our nails. (Though that would be an improvement.) I just feel we focus on the wrong things a LOT in this society. Priorities? I personally refuse to live such a life that it's a complete calamity if my nail breaks. Indeed, when they do get long and pretty and then I reluctantly file them down, I marvel at how much easier it is to text and type and I wonder why I ever let them grow in the first place. But that's me. I know I can't force my beliefs onto others (Even though I am right. HAHAHHA! Little joke there!!!), but actually we can when the behavior of others is affecting the health of the rest of us. Have I mentioned the chemicals? And it really isn't even the thought of the mani/pedi that annoyed me - it was the use of words. Words mean things. I know, I use them all the time. Let's stop being so irresponsible with them. If reality TV is evolution, then we need to de-evolve and quick. You can say they were trying to be lighthearted, but I know the audience at which they are aiming, and this is more like gospel to them.

And THAT'S the problem here. Not the deal, not the action, but the thought processes at work. This is the kind of not-thinking-consequences thinking that keeps us mired in all of it.

Because, really. Can we really say "Toddlers with Tiaras" and its spawn are signs of an evolved way of thinking?

..........not so much.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Let's Think About It

Progress? Or just an excuse to create an industry we don't really need?

Let's really think about this and think about it hard. Please.

What am I talking about? I'm talking about so-called progress, and convenience, and making our lives easier, and solving problems, and solving problems that aren't really problems... and finding "stuff" for people to do - because maybe just maybe there are too many people doing the wrong job and we are going the wrong direction altogether?

Observe: The Milk Carton Dilemma. SUCH a horrible problem to have to mash open the mouth of the carton. Wow, that sucks. I just can't think of anything worse. What a problem. I mean, my whole day is ruined when that happens. That's just terrible. Cancer? Terrorism? Poverty? Mere child's play compared to when I can't open a milk carton. Those old enough to remember Sniglets might recognize the word "Lactomangulation." You may as well go back to bed when this happens.

But wait! Never fear! Progress and Technology are here to rescue YOUR morning! To make YOUR life better and easier and more convenient, we have PLASTIC to save you! And look! Jobs! We need people to make these very very necessary things!

Now look at what we have: we've gone from a carton that really doesn't recycle anyway, to a carton that now has a plastic piece on it that won't get recycled because it's attached to a carton that doesn't get recycled and it will not get separated from said carton. PLUS, a little round ring thingy-piece that gets thrown away after you hurt your finger trying to get it the hell out of there. PLUS, the lid. That won't get recycled. We went to the beach the other week, and I didn't get any shells, but I DID pick up a whole handful of plastic screw-top lids. Might not have gotten them all, but damn it I got those. So, you know, I'm thinking we have more than enough lids out there already. We didn't need an excuse to make more.

But, but, but.... JOBS! Jobs are good and people get jobs by making these things we don't really need! And THAT'S good, right? Justified!

See, I have a problem there. Jobs for the sake of... jobs? Why? Because we can't come up with a job that might move us forward ecologically instead? Because this was just easier and someone is making good money up at the top? Because the Plastics Coalition says, "Hey, here's a job!" and no one says anything about how we really don't need this and maybe there is something else to be done? We had to train people to work the machines that make these things; why not train them to, I don't know, grow industrial hemp instead, or make/install solar panels or wind turbines? Why not THAT job? Instead of making machines to make useless unnecessary plastic pieces of waste, why not make machines to make stuff out of hemp? Why not?

I know why, actually. It's because plastic is made out of petroleum, and the oil industry prefers that we don't actually think about the reality of this situation. And HERE IS the reality of this situation: Opening a milk carton was never a problem in our lives. It was at most a minor nuisance that really did not negatively affect anything in the big picture. And we are creating needless waste by solving a problem that didn't exist in the first place. And we are holding people to jobs that don't go anywhere and don't really advance anyone and just keep people locked into a certain position in life. And if you didn't realize or don't believe that, you ought to give it some thought.

Hey... how about we go back to glass bottles? And hey, why don't we go back to milk delivery? THAT was a job. It was a good one.

In the meantime, can we just start thinking a little more, and stop taking everything at face value? And realize what's REALLY going on out there?

That'd be nice for a change.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

"That's all well and good, but..."

"Trader Joe’s 10 Instant Coffee Packets All Dressed up with Creamer & Sugar were crafted to quell the coffee conundrum, not just for our buyers, but for all who face it. Discovered while traveling in Korea by a buyer in desperate need of a quick, quality caffeine fix, these portable packets promise a consistent cup of delicious coffee with a careful balance of creamer and cane sugar sweetener. That’s right; the coffee, cream and sugar are combined in the same packet. All you need is a drinking vessel and some hot water – simple, elegant, reliable."
That's GREAT when you are traveling in far away and distant lands where a cuppa joe might be hard to come by, in a serious pinch, in desperate times.

We still seem to be rushing down the wrong path. I really want to see us turn around. I DON'T see it turning around, but I wish it would. But I never seem to run out of things to say here. I'd call it job security, but, well... I don't actually get paid for this.

Yeah. Who's kidding who? Whom? Whatever. People aren't picking up this product for their trip to Borneo. For climbing the Alps. For super-coffee-emergencies. People are buying this to use in their homes, and of course that is perfectly fine by TJ's. That's what they made it for - to sell it.

Why does anyone *need* this product at home on any random day? Just can't get up the energy to actually collect the jar of instant and the sugar and the creamer on a daily basis? I can see how that can get tiresome.
By all means, buy this product for that "coffee conundrum" that you ran into in your own kitchen. Those happen far too frequently. It's a real problem. Solve it with plastic packaging! Quick! Hurry!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

ALL Natural and Very Magical

'Egyptian Magic All-Purpose Skin Cream "The People's Choice" is made with the blessings and guidance of our ancestors and with the following pure ingredients: olive oil, bees wax, honey, bee pollen, royal jelly, bee propolis and Divine love.'

I was intrigued by the wording on their site and their jar. "Life takes from the taker and gives to the giver. Above all, let your word be your bond." Yeah, it says that. Right on the jar. I love the ingredients. I do not agree with vegans who say we should not use bee products. I believe bee products are some of the best things that Mother Nature shares with us. Bee keepers are some of the most Earth-respecting people I ever meet. They are not exploiting bees, they are caring for them and loving them. But I digress from this product.

The nicest person responded to my inquiry when I contacted the company, hoping for a sample to try for myself. Emma sent me an entire 2-ounce jar, plus some sample packets which I happily gave to others, so they could try it, too. I was hoping it would be in a ceramic jar, not plastic, but alas, that was not the case. I wish they would not use plastic jars. The only consolation I have for that is that I reuse those things forever and ever and have many uses for them and really rarely buy anything else in them anymore. I am not defending their choice, but I can live with it if that is how it has to be. (Um, maybe we can write to them to get them to change that?) It helps that this little 2-ounce sample is going to last me for MONTHS. I compare that to other products that don't last nearly as long, so I know I am conserving in the long run. But still. Ceramic or glass, please??

I use an amount about the size of my fingernail for my whole face. It's a lovely solid that liquefies to an oil in your hand. That little bit goes a long, long way. What's left on my hands, I rub off in my hair. I have really oily skin, so I am very picky about what I use. This stuff actually makes my skin GLOW. Are my wrinkles going away? I don't really know. I know my skin is smoother and clearer. I don't really care about wrinkles, so I don't much pay attention to them. I'm OK with my "laugh-lines" and "crow's feet" or whatever. They make me look like a real person. With a real life. But, yeah, I guess my forehead could be looking smoother, and my skin looks more even after using this for about a month. I just plain love it. I can't wait to get it on my skin after my shower. It just feels good.

It's a little pricey, I thought. At first. It's endorsed by celebrities, which is usually more of a warning shot to me than an actual reason to buy. But, using it, And seeing how long this ONE jar will last, and seeing everything it does, I'm Ok with the price. There is not one chemical in it. It's all-natural, and it will keep the bees in business. (Again, contrary to vegan views, that's a good thing. I don't mind if they don't like this product, that means more for me.) The different uses for this stuff are pretty great, check it out here on their site:

I was happy to see it on the shelf at Spouts. Love that store. I know I'll be able to get it on Amazon for a good price if a store around me doesn't have it. As a matter of fact... go here: Egyptian Magic All Purpose Skin Cream Facial Treatment, 4 Ounce (I know there's a weird block there, I can't get rid of it!!!)

I find no need to look at any other products for my skin. This one jar will do it all. So no little tubes and multiple jars in my bathroom... just my new favorite thing made from beautiful wonderful bees and Nature and Lord-Pharaoh ImHotep-AmonRa, CEO, founder and manufacturer. I'm sold on it, I recommend it, I love it. I'd say I can't wait to buy my next jar of it, but judging from what I still have left, that'll be... another 4 months or so!

Now, if we can just persuade them to ditch the plastic.... :)