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November 25th, 2011
Random Blather About Black Friday

Apparently it was an okay Black Friday this year – no one died. There were just muggings, and pepper spraying from a crazy bitch who decided to pepper spray her fellow shoppers to get them out of her way. I also read about store security pepper spraying for crowd control, and I think I saw mention of a taser.

Really? Really? Anyone who can read that and NOT think that society is going to hell in a handbasket has an optimism I don’t share.

Consider the picture (commentary added is mine): this was the scene at a local store after their midnight opening. WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE? Why do they have to destroy the display so that no one else can shop it too? How can anyone think it’s okay tear merchandise out of boxes and then to throw it on the floor? Are we toddlers?

This is one of the reasons I had to take a break from retail. I was afraid if I worked another holiday I’d be taking hostages, because people’s entitled behavior is just getting worse and worse, and retail workers just have to take it and take it because their corporate overlords want the customer’s money.

It’s not just in stores either. Apparently Sephora’s website was unavailable for some part of the day and the level of vitriol on their fan page was awe-inspiring. I guess it IS the worst thing in the world to not be able to shop the day after Thanksgiving.

People can really suck.

Posted by Claire at 10:01 PM | Rant | Comments (0) | Tweet This Post

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November 21st, 2011
Shop Handmade

Usually this time of year I’d start getting twitchy because we would already be playing the holiday music at work and we’d be getting ready for Black Friday. Six years of Holiday At The Mall, and I was basically ready to take hostages. This year will be different, because I’m not working at the mall anymore. I was thinking of writing up some screed supporting Buy Nothing Day but honestly, with the economy what it is, I think Buy Handmade is a better message.

A lot of people have taken to opening Etsy shops and going to craft fairs, and finding other ways to start their own small, often one person, business. Since I’ve been there, done that I know how hard it is, but it can also be really gratifying. This year, stay out of the malls and stop supporting large corporations that treat their employees like shit and buy all their stuff from sweatshops in China. Instead, go the places like Portland Saturday Market or a market local to you, and shop online at places like Artfire and Etsy. You’ll be directly supporting an individual, not Corporate America. Plus, you’ll get some awesome usually one-of-a-kind unique gift.

Try it. It’s a good plan.

Posted by Claire at 11:32 AM | Activism | Comments (0) | Tweet This Post

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November 18th, 2011
Trying To Go Green

The trick for me, when trying to figure out how to be more “green” and eco-friendly, is balancing convenience and effectiveness with green-ness. Take dishwasher detergent, for example. I haven’t been a fan of powder dishwasher detergent because it isn’t very effective (at least, it didn’t used to be when I tried it years ago) and the gel stuff worked better. So I’ve been buying gel dishwasher detergent for years. But I hate that it comes in big plastic bottles, very wasteful. Plastic is just evil, evil stuff, in my opinion.

Poking around the net, I’ve found a recipe for powder dishwasher detergent you make yourself. It’s pretty easy, just mix up four readily available and cheap ingredients, and voila! Dishwasher detergent that’s cheap and eco-friendly. I’ll be testing it out to see if it actually works. If it does, then yay! I’ll make the switch.

I’ve tried using a variety of eco-friendly cleaners for my shower. Despite what they claim, none of them really work on soap scum without excessive amounts of scrubbing – the same amount needed if I’d used nothing at all, really. So, it’s Scrubbing Bubbles for me, even though that’s not the “greenest” choice. It does come in a metal can, so there’s that at least. It’s recyclable.

Hot water and white vinegar is effective on my hardwood floors, so no need to use special cleansers in plastic bottles. A couple drops of peppermint essential oil helps with the vinegar smell, which isn’t my favorite.

I mixed up a batch of laundry detergent using my handmade soap. So far I’ve only used it on non-clothing items like throw rugs and towels, but it seems to work pretty good.

This page has other helpful ideas. Some have been effective, others not so much (bathtub shower… see above, lol).

Posted by Claire at 02:16 PM | Activism, Housewife | Comments (0) | Tweet This Post

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November 16th, 2011
A Sticky Situation

The other day Jacob posted a link to an interesting article in Food Safety News. Apparently, a lot of the honey sold on store shelves has had all of its pollen filtered out. It is stated by the president of the American Honey Producers Association that the only way to remove all pollen from honey is through a process called “ultra-filtration” and that the resulting product isn’t considering honey anymore by the FDA.

A lot of honey packers (and the National Honey Board) are crying foul, claiming that traditional methods can in fact remove ALL pollen from honey, and that the FDA does in fact consider honey without pollen to still be honey.

So who’s telling the truth? I’m just not sure. The point of the article was that honey with all of its pollen removed can no longer be traced to the source, and in fact this is done to conceal the origin of illegally imported Chinese honey. (The Chinese honey is problematic because it usually contains contaminants like antibiotics and pesticides.) As a consumer, traceability is important to me. I want to know where my food comes from, and quite frankly, I don’t trust companies to be honest in their labeling. If a company is selling a product that can no longer be traced to its source, I’m skeptical.

We like honey. We have been buying Wessels for a long time, because it’s local and tasty. Their honey has pollen in it. I think the moral of the story for me is to continue purchasing local honey and supporting “the little guys.” The large packing companies can keep their pollen-free untraceable product that may or may not be honey.

Posted by Claire at 11:53 AM | Good Eats, Politics | Comments (0) | Tweet This Post

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November 9th, 2011
Santa Paws Drive

A few years back, in February 2009, to be specific, I was active on Twitter – as my cats. Yup, I’m one of those people. In February, a group of like-minded individuals decided to throw a sort of ad-hoc Twitter party, for charity. And thus, the Pawpawty was born. Pawpawties are cool, and I’m proud to say that I (or rather, my cats) have been a DJ at many of them (not all, but we haven’t missed very many!). The Pawpawties have raised $53,417 (so far!) for animal charities around the world! It’s pretty damned awesome to be a part of something so powerful.

This will the the third year that a group of super-cool people associated with the Pawpawties is doing a special thing for Christmas. If you clicky over there <– on the link, you’ll be taken to the page for Santa Paws Drive. Santa Paws Drive is to support animal shelters, both by collecting toys and treats, as well as much needed cash donations for the shelters.

Everyone has their “thing” and doing something real to help animals (forget talk, I want action!) and supporting the Pawpawties and Santa Paws Drive is my thing. If you’re interested, check it out. :)

Posted by Claire at 08:11 PM | Activism | Comments (2) | Tweet This Post

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