All material here copyright Jean McDermott. For information on purchasing any article for your publication please use the email link. The language on this site may not be suitable for children or the extremely persnickety.
Jean McDermott is a freelance writer and professional muscian.
I just bought some new checks online. I find most of the checks at the bank boring and expensive, and besides, when the new checks arrive in my mailbox, they come with valuable coupons!
Of course I need MORE checks so they send me an offer for business checks. Wait, hey, stupid! I just bought checks! I don't need any more checks! I got two boxes and it will take me years to go through that many checks as it is! But no, they want me to know I can buy huge business checks that you have to lug around in a huge binder. Now that's what I call convenience.
Then there are the return address labels. Like I need to order more of those, given that every charity in the country sends me loads of them for free. I have Nature Conservancy labels, World Wildlife Fund labels, Audubon labels, North Shore Animal League Labels and so many more. I have an entire drawer filled with address labels!
What I really need is a personalized teddy bear. Especially made for me in China from toxic materials! Yay!
My life will be much more secure if I order a "Footprints in the Sand" diamond ring. Not only is it ugly, but it only costs $37.50! Plus five bucks to send it. WOW, a diamond ring for only $37.50! Sterling silver with plated 24 carat gold, oh yes, that's going to last! And those diamonds, you can't even see them in the huge, enlarged picture on the coupon...
Of course it's a good idea to buy "Presidential Dollar" coins that are "Layered in Pure 24-Karat Gold." Oh boy, I want something that has a LAYER of gold on it. Something at least a couple microns thick.
My life will NOT be complete until I buy a box of rocks. Presumably so that I can prove that I'm smarter than it is. And each rock will cost ONLY $1.95 each! All guaranteed to be "Minerals of the Earth!" One can't be sure when all those minerals might become rare, so we all better start collecting them now, just in case.
"Help, I've fallen and I can't get up!" Do I need this thing? Not yet, by cracky!
By the time I need the Life Alert (when I've fallen and I can't get up) I'll also want that wig catalogue that looks so sexy. They are so high class, it's obvious by their slogan: "Only you'll know it's a wig!" It's amazing how the same big-nose woman can look just like herself even though she's tried on six different wigs!
No one's kitsch collection would be complete without the 50th Anniversary Limited Edition of ELVIS Collector coins. "Each limited edition count is a Brilliant Uncirculated Tennessee State Commemorative Quarter...incredibly color enhanced..." WOW, real quarters someone has painted! Golly, I gotta get me sum of these and save 'em furever! Let's see, five quarters for ONLY $9.95 PLUS $4.95 shipping and handling. So I think I got me a gud deal at $14.90 for $1.25 worth of quarters, don't you! But they's ELVIS! And they's in CULLER!
At last we come to the most tempting of all the offers, at least the most tempting to me. The World's Greatest Books, with a FREE real wood bookshelf, and I get my first three books for only $1.95! Of course these ARE the World's Classics, and it doesn't matter that they are only a couple inches tall. I definitely want a cheap little rack full of teeny books poorly printed in China, with "gold patterned covers," and "select ivory-colored paper." I definitely NEED all the little teeny books I can get! My house is very small, this might work out pretty well. After my first three books for $1.95 arrive, (for 95¢ postage) I can easily agree to accept three more each month, at only $7.95 EACH BOOK, plus $1.99 shipping for EACH BOOK. YES, I definitely want Alice in Wonderland and A Christmas Carol and Huckleberry Finn in teeny tiny book form! They didn't say how many books they had, they just said they'd keep coming every month... No need to send money now, just send in the coupon and I'm READY. Woo hoo!
I look goofy because normally my eyes close just before the flash strikes, and Lance looks exhausted because he just won the Iditarod AND the Yukon Quest. This was taken last year at the reception given for Lance down at Pioneer Park, in our quaint 60's era round Civic Center, aka The Pickle Barrel.
And by golly, he won both races again this year! Way to go!
Though I spent most of the afternoon jamming with Bill Stevens, I did catch a bit of the dog races and even the dog weight pull, a new event for this year.
I believe the dogs I photographed were Buddy Streeper's, though I'm not sure.
The race finishes in Downtown Fairbanks. The temperature was at least 30° above zero. Warm. These dogs were just trotting along for the most part, already past the finish line and all worn out after their sprint. These are sprint dogs, not long distance dogs. You can see that they look completly different from Iditarod dogs or Yukon Quest dogs. Many of them have pointer in them, and other mixes. The are small, wirey, and fast.
Once they get done, they are way hot and thirsty and roll in the snow and eat as much snow as they can.
One of the lead dogs from the team I photographed coming in. He has a small piece of blue masking tape on his flank, I have no idea why! :oD (That's not a cut, it's the masking tape.)
When I first arrived I saw a couple dogs do the weight pull. I was surprised to see that nearly all the dogs were St. Bernards. The first dog was still very puppyish, and in fact kept goofing off in ways that cracked us all up.
No one took this event very seriously, it was all just for fun. You can see the concrete weights, there weren't very many of them. I hope the lighthearted attitude stays with this event.
He did get this big guy to pull the sledge about six feet. Then he got a cookie.
This guy only pulled a few feet. All the dogs were major goofballs!
I recently bought some "Sleep Aid," Member's Mark Brand 50 mg
diphenhydramine gel caps. Diphenhydramine is the same as Benadryl. It's
widely available as a generic.
NOWHERE on the label did it say
where it was made. There was, however, a toll-free number in
microscopic type (I had to use a magnifying glass to read it) for
questions. So I called.
Two operators later I was talking to the
Quality Control agent in charge of this product. They buy the caplets
from a manufacturing plant in Canada. They have to sign off on the
ingredients, and they require NO ingredients be from ANY Asian country
and especially not from China.
They then package them up for sale in both Costco and Sam's Clubs.
was VERY sure that the two products he was responsible for had NO
Chinese or other Asian ingredients, including the gel and colorings,
etc. The other product they make is a stool softener. I told him, "Oh,
that's not an issue, I don't need to worry about that one!"
nice to have a good experience while trying to track these things down!
Mostly you get stonewalled when you ask if something is made in or
contains ingredients from China.
I just got off the phone with the Safeway corporate office, and was told that there was no Chinese ingredients in my Safeway Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal, and that if there were, it would be on the box, no ifs, ands, or buts. He said it was FDA rules and that they absolutely adhered to them because the repercussions would be very bad if they didn't. He said that they did sell Chinese apple juice from concentrate and that it is clearly marked on the bottle, and would be so on the oatmeal too, if that were the case.
He was very nice, and when I apologized for bothering him, he said, "You have every right to be concerned, we get hundreds of phone calls like this every day."
Everyone: CALL CALL CALL and LET THEM KNOW, AS I DID, THAT YOU WILL NOT BUY CHINESE CONSUMABLES! Let Safeway, Costco, Sam's Club, Fred Meyer, every place you shop, CALL them and let them know you won't buy toys or food or pet food from China! Don't be mean, be nice, but firm. Get to their corporate office, their Quality Control people, ask questions and let it be known that you will pay a little more so that you can be safe and add to our economy, not China's.
If anyone knows of a website tracking all the dangerous Chinese products, please post it!
We were out in the back yard and Sofia and I heard a familiar churrrr. We looked at each other. Sofie went, "arrRUUMMMmyyymmmmm," put her ears back and walked away.
Yup. The squirrels are awake. Arch-enemy of dogs everywhere. Arch enemy of me, too, when they nest under my house, chew up my house, and steal my insulation.
After we got back in the house the dogs went cuckoo-banana-nuts racing from window to window because the little sucker started running around right near the house.
This year I'm going to take all my black-oil sunflower seed and carry it to a far corner of my property and dump it in a big bonanza pile for the squirrels. Then switch to nut meats for the birds. I HOPE this will keep them away from my house.
It probably won't work. But I'm going to give it a try. :-P
I've had to move my food back into the house, too. It's a big pain! People are about mixed as to whether this is really Break-Up or not. Of course it's not officially Break-Up until the river goes out, but right now we have wet and dry roads, snow and ice sliding off roofs everywhere (and nailing a few cars and people as usual), and the constant dripping sound.
There is no snow on the trees, no snow on my balcony, yet the ground is covered. If this is Break-Up, it's WAY early. For heaven sakes, the World Ice Artcompetition is just starting. It isn't going to be possible to see any sculptures the way things are going. Not to mention the Iditarod! This is not exactly ideal weather for dog mushing.
Tonight the temperatures will drop below freezing and then, oh boy, will driving be "fun." Which is why I'm staying home tonight! It's probably going to take me all afternoon just to figure out how to fit all the food from my outside box into my small refrigerator's freezer. :-P
Yes, it's nice to have warmer temperatures, but this is not the right time of year yet. If this is truly Break-Up, I'm going to be mightily surprised.
The more I look into the food import situation, the less I like it. Especially what consumables come out of China.
I like to keep apple cinnamon instant oatmeal on hand for a quick and healthy breakfast. Two packages of it with a bit of water and zapped in the microwave for 30 seconds and it is ready to go. I put a big glob of applesauce on it instead of milk or cream and it's really nice.
But now I hear that up to 50% of our apple products, such as applesauce, apple juice, and dried apples, come from China these days.
A apple a day might not keep the doctor away. It might do just the opposite. This worries me.
I love apples. I hope that I find out that there is applesauce I can buy that is safe, instead of filled with pesticides and industrial chemicals. But it's hard to find the information about where, for instance, Tree Top gets the apples it makes into applesauce. Or where the apples in the oatmeal came from. Instead of eating a healthy breakfast each day, am I simply poisoning myself?
What I already know about consumables from China:
Tainted seafood, tainted catfish, both with scary levels of bacteria and some with enormous amounts of banned antibiotics.
Cough syrup and toothpaste with diethylene glycol in it. The cough syrup killed hundreds of people in Panama and other places. The toothpaste was found right here in the US in the dollar stores, and many of the tubes were fake Colgate, and other brands.
Thousands and thousands of cats and dogs died from the melamine poisoning in rice and wheat gluten. In addition, fish, swine and poultry were all contaminated from the same feed ingredient and were out to market so fast that they were already consumed before it was discovered. Plus some of the fish were released into our waterways. So now we have people who have been secondarily poisoned and fish bearing loads of a poison that will now go into the environment.
China has long been the main source for fake drugs. Those drugs you buy on the internet? Many of them are fake, made of sheet rock dust and the paint for line striping on the highways. Not only are they fake and won't cure you, they might hurt you, too. And they have made their way into our own American pharmacies, since businesses use jobbers to find the best deal on the drugs. So the jobbers buy the fakes from China and there you go. I actually got several asthma inhalers that had NO medicine in them, and I'm sure they were fakes from China. I reported it to the Sam's Club pharmacist and he didn't care at ALL.
I would like to find a web site that tracks all the violations, especially of those consumables that are ingredients in food or drugs that are ostensibly labeled "Made in USA." We NEED to require that companies label where EACH ingredient originated.