Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Tupperware Party!

Yesterday morning my very nice neighbor, Gina, invited me to her Tupperware Party. When she told me it was last night at 7 PM I hesitated. I was think about my CT scan this morning and didn’t feel like going out. But I talked myself into it. It would be a good and fun distraction for me. I haven’t been to a girl’s night out in ages, and to a Tupperware party in over 30 years. Before I married the wife of my husband’s friend invited me to one at her house. Being I was in the midst of buying everything we would need, I over estimated the necessity of Tupperware. Therefore, as I listened to the sales pitch, everything sounded like a “must have, something you couldn’t live without” item. And when I put my order in I did so accordingly, buying up everything they were selling. I used a fraction of it regularly and the rest sat around for special occasions while the others spent a life sentence in my cabinet waiting for the right moment for a debut that never happened. When I moved I threw out almost every piece of Tupperware I owned except for a couple of favorite pieces that I love.

Promptly at 7 PM I went to ring my neighbor’s bell. She lives just two doors away and seemed surprised to see me. I told her it was a very long time since I had had a night out and it was a good excuse to give my husband some peace and quiet. It was a pretty small gathering of about 10 guests and two sales consultants. I’m sure you know how it all goes. We go around the table saying who we are, how we know Gina and what our favorite piece of Tupperware is. My favorite all time piece of Tupperware is the 4 cup plastic measuring cup (which is as big as a bowl) that comes with a cover. I use it to mix all my cake mixes and they easily pour them into pans and cupcake trays. It is a big time saver and a lot less messy for a klutz like me. Every time you say something that helps promote Tupperware you get a raffle ticket. But the sales lady took a liking to me and kept giving me tickets whether I earned them or not. My next door neighbor, the one between us, was also invited. Her name is “Ina,” and she looked like she didn’t even want to be there. Gina kept offering her wine, but Ina kept saying no. She didn’t try to engage in any conversation and as soon as the demonstration was over she walked out without even trying to buy anything. Oh well.  Now for a little commercial:

The Amazing Macaroni Maker!

Now, I know very little about Gina, the hostess, so when they announced the first game would be to write down what Gina would answer to various questions, how the heel would I know. He mother, sister, long term friend and coworkers were there. I think they had a leg up on me. However, despite my skeptical attitude, I ended up winning making logical guesses. For example when they asked her favorite color, I said “red” because as I looked around her kitchen for clues I saw the Solo cups were red. When they asked her favorite music, I picked country because we are around the same age. When she said “Disco” I piped up, what about country? To which she said yes she likes country music a lot, I gave myself a point for that.

I interacted in all the games, was my nice, witty self, and made everyone laugh. They started a conversation about high schools they went to, I was polite and didn’t chime it right away. Then Gina asked are you around our age and did you go to Grover Cleveland H. S.? I said I’ll be 60 in August and yes I went there too. Then everyone was shocked to learn I was 60 and I just said I had good genes! This is why I don’t get why anyone would shave years off their real age and look like an old 55 year old instead of a young 60 year old . . . But that’s just me.

Then we get to the role playing. The sales lady is trying to compare working for Tupperware (yourself) as opposed to working for “Starbucks.” She needs two “volunteers to help her so she picks one woman she has a kitchen full of Tupperware and me. The woman is playing the role of the new Tupperware saleslady and I am playing the part of the Starbuck’s barista. The saleslady is holding some giant $100 bills to give us. She gets to work whatever days she wants and I am relegated to working weekends. She gets two hundred for every one hundred I earn. She gets twice the pay and earns vacation points. So the third time she offers me $100 I told her I have something for you too . . . My resignation letter. Everyone got a laugh out of that.

Comes to the end of the demonstration and she gives us all a penny and we have three choices: One we can put it in our pocket and she wishes us all good luck, two we can take it up with our order and she will deduct it OR three we can pick out a straw with a message attached to it that is either a prize OR a commitment for a Tupperware Party. She comes to me first, because she likes me. What do you want to do with your penny she asks? I say, “Well I’m not buying one of those straws because I can’t have a party. I don’t know enough people to invite.” She got serious for a second. I guess she didn’t like me any more but that was the honest truth. I have no one to invite and it would be a waste of everyone’s time.

The Chop n Prep

I jotted down some of my favorite items like the Chop & Prep, the macaroni cooker, the omelet maker, an ice cream scoop that warms up when you hold the handle, a nice wine corkscrew that has a an attachment that slips over the bottle for easy opening and I ended up ordering two. The macaroni cooker was very intriguing. It’s a long blue box that holds one pound of macaroni that cooks in the microwave and then has vents to drain out the water. That would save me time and clean up. So I asked the Tupperware expert a long side me about it and she said it might work but your microwave has to be large enough for it to go around. She didn’t think hers was and I had no clue if mine was. I ordered the Chop and Prep and omelet maker for starters. I figured I could get anything else from the saleslady in the future from her website.

Omelet Maker

When almost everyone was gone Gina asked me to stay with her mom, sister and friend and we had a lively conversation. Many of my topics came out of my pet peeves on noisy neighbors. No need to rehash any of that here.

If you get a chance go to a Tupperware Party! It was fun and you may want to have one of your own and get free gifts and discounts on more Tupperware.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Family Tree: Tracking Them Down

My mother, Jennie

My daughter has picked up where we left off digging up information, documents and pictures tracing our family tree. She even started a blog called, "Tracking Them Down," where she writes about some of her experiences. She has tried her hand at colorizing pictures too, starting with one of my mother that we all love (see above). It's a great hobby that she enjoys when she has the time to devote to it.

While she is working on documenting all her information on charts, she is also scanning every picture she can get and scanning them into the computer. She is noting names and dates and whatever else she feels is important. Eventually she plans to put them on on flashdrives and give them to her cousins. Then everyone will have a complete set preserved for their families.

This April marked the anniversary of my Uncle Tony's death. We were going to his daughter, Maria's, house for Easter dinner. We came up with the idea of making a collage of her father's old pictures to surprise her. My daughter had a few pictures in mind and she printed them. The collage came out pretty nice and Maria was very touched and appreciative to have gotten it. She looked at it for a long time and almost couldn't put it down.

Her father's Confirmation, Graduation, Graduation with his mother, Army

This weekend we were invited to Maria's for a Memorial Day barbeque. Seeing as how Mother's Day fell in May, I thought it would be nice to make another collage to go with the first one. This time I asked my daughter if she could find pictures of my grandmother, two aunts and my mother, the women who we all grew up with as children and the women my uncle Tony was closest to in his family. And here is what she came up with:
Our Grandmother, Sisters Mary, Vincenza, and Jennie (my mom)
When I handed her the package she knew immediately it was more pictures, but she wouldn't unwrap it right away. She spent a few minutes guessing which pictures we possible selcted. She wasn't sure if they were more recent pictures of us as children, or more old pictures of aunts and uncles. She was pretty close! She was once again surprised to see all her aunts and her favorite picture of grandma, who died a couple before she was born and after who she was named. I'm glad we came up with this idea because Mother's Day was in May and it was so appropriate to put all the "moms" together. Of course her own mom, my Aunt Mary, isn't in this frame, but one day the two collages will be tied together with the most important woman in my Uncle Tony's life and the next big event in his life" their wedding picture. The only thing that remains is to find an original picture to copy. You can see, in my uncles collage above, a small copy of that picture that will one day complete this set.
I'm very happy my daughter has a love for her family history and that we took the time, before she was born, to find out all we could. One day soon, my daughter and I are planning to make a large family tree wreath. I have been thinking of the best way to go about it and I need to get craft supplies.
I would encourage everyone who is interested in doing the same type of thing to start as soon as you can. Memories fade over time, the elders in the family pass away, and it gets harder to get the rich details that you don't want to lose for generations that follow.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Dr. Phil Has Irked Me Again…

Self promotion and exploitation are the basic motivators for Dr. Phil’s show. I am not the only one who feels that way, just check out his show’s Facebook page to see complaint after complaint. What’s up now? For those of you who don’t tune in I’ll explain. This year Robin, Dr. Phil’s wife, has “created” a skin care line (and I use the word “created” very loosely). On top of that, Dr. Phil and his son Jay have created a new app called, “Doctor on Demand,” that allows you to connect with a real doctor, who will diagnose you over your smart phone and give you a prescription for whatever ails you for a mere $40, the cost of a co-pay, in the comfort of your home. That is what is on the agenda for this season. Two money making schemes to add to the riches of Dr. Phil’s pockets. That is after all Dr. Phil’s forte, bilking people out of money under the guise of helping them when, in actuality, he is helping himself.

Let me explain why this irks me. I was watching a show about an abused woman. She had little self esteem, the husband was a real jerk who verbally assaulted her every chance he got. He doesn't find her attractive, blah, blah blah. So they are telling their story and half way into the show (or less) Dr. Phil announces that Robin is going to help the wife by giving her a “make-over.” I’m thinking fine, the wife and Robin will go backstage together while Dr. Phil lays into the jerk of a husband and straightens him out. But no, that’s not what happens. Instead, we get to see the entire make-over from start to finish, focusing on Robin’s skin care line which is going to make all the difference in this woman’s life. Insert eye-roll. All the while Dr. Phil and the jerk of a husband are sitting out on stage waiting for the miraculous transformation that is going to save this marriage. The make-over takes about 30 minutes and is basically a self-serving “infomercial” within the show. There is no other way around it. Promoting Robin’s products and the fact she will be appearing on a cable channel after the show to hawk her goods some more. I was disgusted. Many people of the Dr. Phil page were disgusted. Instead of taking care of the problem “husband” they put a Band-Aid on the wife and sent her home with skin cream. In the meantime you can hear the “chi-ching” for orders being placed all over America and maybe even the world. After this show aired, it wasn’t the end of the shameless promotion of this skin care line. Every female guest appearing after that show needed to be treated with more of the same. They didn’t waste as much time, but managed to beat a dead horse promoting their products when they should be helping the guest.

Moving on to the Doctor on Demand App. How long has Dr. Phil been “treating” people on his show? Over ten years I would guess. Never before has he had the need for an medical doctor to define every illness and it’s consequences. Up until now, he has ben able to tell guests the what will happened if they continue to do drugs or alcohol. This isn’t his first rodeo after all. He knows his stuff and what he doesn’t know he can easily find out. But now he is all of a sudden playing dumb. Every guest that is harming themselves with drugs or alcohol needs to hear what a doctor on demand has to say about it. Midway through his interview the will tell us he and his son Jay have created an app that allows you to speak to a doctor about any medical issue. Dr. Phil will whip out his smart phone, that has already connected itself to a doctor from his app, and start asking the doctor questions about the guests condition. He will hand the phone over to the guest as he asks basic questions and then thank the highly qualified doctor for answering. Then he encourages everyone to download the app and gets back to his guest. It really is unethical to use the show in this way. Doesn’t Dr. Phil have enough money without taking time away from guests who have come to him seeking his help? And we all know that he combs through all potential guests to find those who will bring him the highest ratings because this show is a cash cow for Dr. Phil and all his products. He even promotes his son, Jay's, show The Docotrs and his son's publishing company that published the good old doc's lasst book.

He may have started out a tiny bit sincere about trying to help people overcome problems, but now (and for a long long time) his guests have become a means to an end. A way to help his empire grow. Who cares if that woman’s husband, the jerk, continues to verbally abuse her? They gave her skin care products and let her be on the show to exploit her problem as a means to launch Robin’s line. And who better to subscribe to his app Doctor’s on demand than hypochondriacs? They can call in every day! Yes, he did have a woman on there who suffered from hypochrondria and he suggested she use his app. Cha-ching.


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Danielle Shea, College Student, Calls in Bomb Threat…

This story has been haunting me for a couple of days now, since I first heard it on the news. Maybe it's because I've attended more than my fair share of graduations in my lifetime. I went back and forth about blogging it because I was a little too pissed to think straight. The facts of the story are that Danielle, a dropout of Quinnipiac University, failed to tell her mother she was no longer attending in school. Instead, she took the tuition money she was sending, about 55thousand dollars, and went about her business for the year. But then it came time for graduation. Her mother showed up along with all the other parents, to see her daughter graduate. Of course Danielle’s name was not in the program and she would not be called on stage. She had to do something. So she called in a bomb threat at the school library twenty minutes before the ceremony was due to start. I guess that didn’t cause enough of a commotion to halt the graduation, so she followed that call up with another call saying there were several bombs all over the campus, saying “You haven’t cleared out graduation. That’s not a good idea.” The police managed to trace the calls to her phone and found her amongst other graduates wearing a cap and gown she had bought. She was arrested and confessed. Her mother was in shock, but managed to bail her daughter out of jail.

Now where do you start with a story like this one? What kind of mind conceives an idea like this? They says she panicked when her relatives didn’t see her name in the program, but what did she expect? She had a year to come to this realization. She had a year to tell her mother the truth. Instead she waits till the last minute and almost ruins graduation for all the other students and their families. Fortunately the delay was only 90 minutes. However, her actions were disturbing and have resulted in her arrest and being charged with falsely reporting an incident and first-degree threatening. Personally, I don’t think this is serious enough and I hope they come up with more serious charges.

AND…if this wasn’t bad enough…in a local story not far from where I live, two Brooklyn boys are accused of poisoning their teacher with rat poison in her water bottle. Fortunately, the poison only caused her to become nauseated the next day and she wasn’t made seriously ill or worse. The boys were 9 and 12 years old and I doubt they will be punish to the extent necessary to teach them a good lesson. A teacher at the same school had reported something suspicious about her water to authorities three weeks ago, but nothing was done. It’s not until something actually happens that officials spring into action. In this incident, the parent of a child who witnessed what the boys did, reported it to the school and the teacher went for medical treatment after being advised.

What the hell is going on in today’s world? When I was in fourth grade the biggest offense students committed was chewing gum in class or taking a cough drop without permission. I remember clearly, one day in sixth grade, when a classmate was obviously suffering from a bad cold and cough. She took a cough drop. No one except the teacher noticed she had something in her mouth. The teacher went up to her desk and demanded to know what she had in her mouth. The girl answered a cough drop. The teacher told her to spit it out and confiscated the box so she couldn’t do it again. Her crime? She had failed to ask permission or bring a note from her parent. And this doesn’t excuse her, but she was the smartest student in the class/school.

Everyday we hear stories and shake our heads in disbelief. It’s not so much about what is becoming of our society, as it is how much worse can it get? These outrageous stories are coming up on a daily basis. Are we ever going to do something besides sit around and wait for the next school shooting? I never read a story that is about something being done to prevent these things, just more and more incidents.

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Backyard Conversion to Parking Spots…

My Backyard along side my neighbor's yard (second steps)

When we bought this house we knew we would have to do something about the front yard and backyard. They were not maintained at all, and were eyesores. They were a weed’s paradise. So, soon after we moved in, we got an estimate and had the front yard done first. This  was the only way I could stomach going in and out of the house until spring, when we would focus on the backyard. It turned out very nice. It’s mostly a patio where we will soon assemble our grill and table and chairs. I am looking forward to it. The weather is finally cooperating and I hope to enjoy it out there in the near future.

Spring barely sprung when I started calling contractors for the backyard. The back yard is about 20 feet by 30 feet and the dirt there is about 4 feet high. It all needs to be dug out, three strong retaining walls needs to be build on a good foundation and then the floor cemented for two nice size parking spots. I got three estimates. The first one was the lowest, $13,500, by the guy who did the front. The second one came from a guy my electrician’s brother-in-law brought me for $15,500. The third estimate came from a guy whose truck I had seen all over my neighborhood since I was a kid, for $22,000. Now I had some thinking to do.

The first estimate was the lowest, but I know the guy is a BS artist. I know he will cut corners in a heartbeat and he is already starting with a low bid. My gut was squeaking about this so I was anxious to get more estimates. The second guy said he was going to do the exact same thing as the first guy, but for $2,000 more. I don’t know anything about this guy, so I did some research. First of all his business is 50 miles away from here and I don’t like that. Second of all, I look at his better business bureau rating and he has an "F" rating. Yeah that’s not a typo…I said “F.” Naturally, with those two strikes against him and my gut screaming, I disn’t need a third strike…he is out. Then I call the third guy. I already know he will come in with the highest estimate, but I want to hear what he is going to do for the extra money. He takes me out back and says he will be using solid 12 inch concrete blocks for the three walls…the other guys wanted to use 8 inch blocks. He tells me he has to put in a three foot foundation under the walls to support them…the other guys wanted to put in a 5 inch foundation. I told him what they said and he laughed. Five inches will never support the weight of those blocks he says. Then he says he is going to cement the floor with a 5 or 6 inch thick layer of cement to support the cars. And he says the law requires a fence on the right wall that is four feet high and he will put one there…the other guys made no mention of this at all. Now I have to think about it and talk to my husband.

It’s so easy to want to go with the cheaper estimate as we are talking a $9,000 difference. That’s a lot of money. What I have to consider is that these three walls separate my yard from three other yards and neighbors. If these walls don’t hold up I will not only have the problem of fixing them, but also three neighbors who could potentially sue me and harass me until I take care of it. I moved here to have peace not to start wars. My husband and I discussed it all. Any shortcuts in this job is going to cost us more in the long run than we will be saving. The most expensive guy insists he will only do the job right. He has had an A+ rating with the BBB for 20 years. His own name and that of his father is the name of the business. I like what he has to say and I trust him to do the right job. We decide to go with him and sign the contract.

Today I get a call from my electrician’s brother-in-law. He brought the second guy to me, the one I scratched off my list right away. He tells me he doesn’t want me to use him to do the job. He says he brought him two other customers and he did a shoddy job for them and they are complaining. And, of course, they are complaining to him because he recommended the guy. I told him I wasn’t going to go with that guy anyway and I told him why. First of all he is too far away for me to be sure he will come back for problems after the fact, if there are any. Then I mentioned that he had an “F” rating with the BBB, which he says he wasn’t aware of. I thanked him for calling me to let me know.

Now I am very glad I thought this through and feel I chose the right guy for the job. I’d rather spend the extra money and have peace of mind knowing it will be done the right way and, if there is an issue, he will come back and take care of it. I hope he schedules me in soon, we signed the contract about a month ago…but we have had lots of rain so who knows. Of course, with all the rain, the yard now looks like a rainforest!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

General Motors Is Responsible for 13 Deaths

I’m still waiting for GM to be held accountable for the 13 deaths and 31 crashes their faulty ignition switches caused. Why are we still talking about it? Why is there a need for an investigation? We know the cause and the consequence of their actions. We know who was in office during this time and making the decision not to recall all cars affected by the problem. GM kept selling cars all the while knowing the risks and the dangers not only to the drivers but to innocent passengers and others on the road. Let’s figure out a good punishment to fit the crime already.

The GM recalls just started in March of this year, 2014, but the cars in question were made in 2005 to 2007. These cars had ignitions which could shut off during driving and prevent air bags from inflating. GM was aware of the problem. Even as people died due to this defect, they sat around and did nothing for a decade. In fact they were “concerned” about the cost to fix the faulty ignitions . . 57 cents each. This year 6.26 million cars have been recalled. One of the mothers of a girl who died estimates the deaths to be closer to 29, with most being under the age of 25. It makes me sick because I can imagine many parents of college students buying their children new cars and sending them off to college. You do that so your child will be safe on the road. You do that for peace of mind. We bought our daughter a new car in 2008 and luckily we went with a Honda. We didn’t want her driving long distances in a car that was several years old with a lot of wear and tear on it. It gives me chills to think we could have just as easily purchased a GM car for her.

Now we have endless investigations and probes. There are executives retiring and being transferred or even being fired. The parts necessary to “fix” the problem became available April 7th, 2014 with repairs starting the same day. No one knows why it took so long to initiate a recall. Gm is sorry. They are working on making amends. They hired a consultant to figure out how much each of the victims or their families should be paid. They replaced their CEO in 2013 with a woman who claims she knew nothing about what has been going on the past decade. How convenient. This way she can’t answer any relevant questions and play dumb.

And guess why this has all been made public knowledge? It’s not because GM suddenly wanted to do the right thing. No. In fact, who knows how long this would have gone on if it hadn’t been for a lawsuit that was filed against them. “The defect was not disclosed by GM nor was it discovered by government regulators or transportation safety agencies. Instead, public knowledge came about because Lance Cooper, a Marietta, Georgia attorney who sued GM on behalf of the family of a woman who had died in a crash, obtained thousands of pages of documents from GM and took the depositions of several GM engineers. According to Sean Kane, the president of a vehicle safety research firm, Cooper "single-handedly set the stage for this recall.”

And what will ultimately be the punishment? Fines? Payouts on lawsuits? Will there be no criminal action taken on those who knowing allowed these cars to be driven despite the potential for loss of life? They call that “depraved indifference” in the law don’t they? I compare this to a bartender who is held accountable if he serves someone too much alcohol, leaves his bar too intoxicated to drive and gets in an accident. Why is he criminally responsible and the individuals at GM not?

Enough talking. It’s time for action. We don’t need to give them time to hire the best attorneys out there to try and down play or weasel out of their accountability. We don’t need to allow them time to calculate in dollars and cents how much each life lost was worth. We don’t need to listen to their excuses as to why they didn’t act immediately when they discovered the problem and allowed more people to die.

Maybe it’s time to shut down GM altogether?