Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Hot Dog!!

Before you plan that family bar-b-que, were you aware that Americans eat an estimated 7 billion hot dogs between Memorial Day to Labor Day? And that on average a child chokes to death on food about once every five days (in the US) and that among those children younger than 10, 17% were caused by choking on hot dogs!


I remember first hearing about the choking hazard of hot dogs in the early 1980's, I think it was on the Phil Donahue show. A grandfather was so upset about the death of his grandson, that he invented a special cutter for them, so that no other child would die this way. The cutter was very simple to use, it was kind of like an apple slicer, you put the hot dog through the center hole, and it would cut grooves into the side of the hot dog. That way, if a child started to choke, the throat would not close on a solid cylinder, and would be easier to remove. It was about this time too, that Fisher Price redesigned the shape of their "Little People" because the old design had proven to be a choking hazard also.

I never did see that grandfather's hot dog cutter, but I did take his message to heart. I began to cut my children's hot dogs lengthwise into quarters. It was this time that my children were no longer allowed to eat un-halved grapes and marshmallows.

Now almost 30 years later, the designers of Guard Dog, a hot dog slicer for the home, has an industrial design to slice hot dogs at the factory. It is called Kinder (pronounce it like kindergarten) Cut, and it thinly slices the hot dog into an 8 petal, daisy design at the meat processing plant. You cook the hot dog as usual, either boiled or on the grill, and the hot dog opens up. The idea is that if a bite of hot dog does get stuck in the throat, it will easily break up into a few pieces, and be easy to cough out.

A hot dog slicer, for home use is the Toddler Bites Hot Dog cutter. It is pretty basic, you cook

the hot dog as usual, press the Toddler Bites Hot Dog cutter over it, and the hot dog is cut into twenty identical pieces. Easily washable.
Will Kinder Cut become standard to the hot dog market? I don't know. To me, having the inside of my hot dog exposed to flame or boiling away in a pot, just isn't appetizing. But with so many families now having twin and even triplet births, this could be a real time saver.
And anything that reduces the worry of choking, child or elderly, has got to be a winner in my book.

Monday, June 28, 2010


So my blog friends, I thought you might like an update? When last we met over my recyclables, I was almost literally covered by them. The recyclables truck was supposed to come and pick them up that Thursday, but never did.

Problem solved! I finally got the right phone number, to call the right office, and as long as I call by the day before our pick up day, our recyclables will be picked up every week. Yes! Triumph!

Also, I had told everyone that if they wanted to ease up on using plastic shopping bags, cloth shopping bags are available at different super markets at very low price, usually between 50 cents to two dollars.

Problem: Make sure you check where the handles attach to the bag. Believe it or not, the non-insulated, WalMart bags handles are not sewn onto the bag, but glued!
Yes, glued! How did we find out? When dh picked up the bag of groceries and the handle pulled off. Thankfully nothing got broken. So, if you buy shopping bags, make sure the handles are attached securely, either by rivet or by being sewn. If you are the handy type, you could probably sew the handles onto the bag yourself. And remember, do NOT overload the bags. Just because they can pack a lot, doesn't mean they should.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

My new car, part 3

"Okay, let's not think about what kind of car you want, let's think about what you want the car to have." my husband says patiently.

"Okay." I agree. Finally, I'm getting it, this conversation isn't going away, I might as well be good and get it over with. "I want it to have four wheel drive when I need it, like my mini-van has now."

I start seriously thinking. "I'll be older then, probably much older," I add so he realizes I'm not looking for this new car to show up any time soon. "So I want it to have the back up beeps to warn everyone that I'm backing up. Oh! And I want it to have those big mirrors that show when someone is sneaking up on your left side when you're trying to merge. Stupid jerks." I add for good measure. "I hate people who do that."

"Oh, and I want that thing that automatically parallel parks for you." I'm warming up to the subject now. This is actually kind of fun. Any other husband would wonder at the monster he'd created, but not mine. He's enjoying the ride.

"And air conditioning and heat, with the different zones like my mini-van has now. Oh, and a tv/dvd player." After all, if Nate is waiting in the car for me, he shouldn't be bored. "Oh, and an electric socket so we can bring along a coffee pot, we'd save so much money if we didn't have to buy it from the Quick Mart."

Hmmm, after all that coffee .... "And a private toilet, for after all that coffee. May-be a back seat that folds into a couch, for when we get stuck in traffic, we could pull off and just relax."

"It sounds to me like you want a traveling living room." My husband muses.

And then it became obvious to both of us, my next vehicle will be a RV!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Our addiction

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, stretches from California to Hawaii AP

The oil catastrophe in the Gulf has our attention now, but equally bad is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch that stretches from off-shore California to off-shore Hawaii and lest people on the Atlantic seaboard feel left out, there is another Garbage Patch forming there too. It is made up primarily of plastic; plastic fiber net ropes, plastic shopping bags, plastic beverage bottles. It is suspected in the death of many marine animals and fish because some ingest the plastic as they feed for krill and ingest the indigestible plastic at the same time. Other deaths occur when an animals body part gets caught in plastic fiber, abandoned, nets and the animal (seals, dolphins for example) or fish (think sharks) or sea turtle ,drowns. .

As hard as it is to believe, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is as much a petroleum environmental disaster as the one in the Gulf , because most plastics are made from petroleum. Those that aren't still usually depend on petroleum products (gas, diesel) for the energy that drives the machines that make them.

Found in the stomach of a dead Minsk Whale, London Telegraph

The drive for recycling is only part of the answer because recycling itself uses so much energy. For example, cardboard can be recycled many times. It is soaked in water and stirred to join the fibers again. Each time cardboard is recycled, it takes longer for the fibers to rejoin, until finally it is impossible. Each round of recycling uses a lot of water. Is this water itself recycled by being cleaned? Sadly, the usual answer is no, although this is changing.

Pile of plastic bottles

Plastic bottles can also be recycled, but think of all the energy that is used. Bottles start their "life" as blanks, made in one factory in a slender shape, and sent to a bottling plant where they are changed to the size and shape that is needed for the particular beverage. Just this far in the story, the bottle has used petroleum three times: it's creation, shipping to the bottling plant
and being changed from a blank to a bottle. Then the beverage is sent to a warehouse, from the warehouse to the store, although if it is going to a large chain, it could go to the chain's warehouse first. The bottle has now used petro a fourth time. You pick up the beverage and bring it home. From there, you put it in your recycling bin and municipal trucks pick it up. The bottle has now used petro six times. From there, it goes to the recovery center, trip seven, to the plant that grinds it into shards for reforming, trip eight. From there, it is made into a blank again, trip nine. That recycling has become pretty petro-use intensive (never mind the air pollution), although that is vastly preferable to it being dumped in the ocean or into a landfill.

These are shopping bags easily picked up at the stores we shop at. The two blue bags are insulated and cost me $2 each. Other bags are as low as 50 cents to $1
Picture by Mary Bennett C2010

Plastic shopping bags can be recycled into dog leashes, and plastic lumber (think decks), most plastic bags are not recycled. Reasons vary, it's hard to find a collector/recyclers, to the bag being re-used at home for garbage. This trend isn't going to change I fear, until municipalities stop insisting on 'clean' garbage, i.e. that all garbage be in bags instead of being able to be put directly into the pick-up can. It does take a little more house keeping to make sure that your garbage receptacle is cleaned every week, but the idea of 'clean' garbage just seems ridiculous. It retards the garbage from decomposing during a time when landfills are filling up at alarming rates.

Metals, like coffee and soda cans can be recycled indefinitely, and along with glass are the best bets for recycling. Of course like all recycling, energy use is involved, but the end product is virtually the same as the beginning product, unlike paper and plastic recycling. An added bonus of glass is the not having to worry about chemical leaching out when the product is used at high temperatures (like the microwave), or when it comes in contact with bleach (cleaning, sanitizing).

The best solution is of course the hardest solution, and that is to avoid not only extra packaging, but even original packaging as much as possible. For example, instead of buying little 16 oz jars, buying bulk containers of product and repackaging them in 8 oz, 16 oz or 32 oz canning jars. The modern kitchen usually has refrigerators, freezers and vacuum sealers to make storing the extra product until it is needed, easy.

Short of this, another great practice is to repurpose , in other words, to use an item in a different way than it was originally intended. Using soda (pop) cans as curlers might be a bit much. However, Dad's old jeans have been repurposed for the longest time by my family. Because denim is so tough, we cut out the seams, and then salvage the pant legs for making pot holders (make sure to layer them with old blanket), resew the legs into sleeves to hold plastic bags (yeah, we still use some), make bags for holding clothes pins, curlers, toy pieces, even small tote bags. The back pockets are unusually strong, so we cut them out, use a clip magnet, and they hold the small packets of seasoning that usually get lost in the cabinet. They are also good for holding coupons. When you go to the store, just bring the whole pocket with you. They fit very easily into a pocketbook. Other repurposing we have done, is to take the plastic lid from an empty can of coffee and put it on the bottom of a new can of coffee. It keeps the can from leaving a rust ring on a damp counter. There are so many ways to repurpose items, it just takes time, imagination and patience.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

BP Oil Spill, our addiction

April 10, 2010, pic provided by BP Oil
For some of us, April 10, 2010 started as a pretty nice day, but that would change quickly, as we got reports of a BP oil rig explosion, with loss of life. That was horrible, but the damage wasn't complete yet. The explosion had caused, according to BP "a small oil leak from the ocean floor." That reassurance proved to be deceptive as the leak was captured by video to not be small at all, neither would the damage. Soon oil and tar balls would be reported washing up on the shores of all the Gulf Coast States, as far as Florida. The ecological, as well as economical cost steadily climbed. But it affected more than economy, it effected people, heritage, and livelihood. Tony Hayward, BP CE
The CE of British Petro did not make any friends with his reported remarks of "we're sorry for the massive disruption it's caused to their lives. There's no one who wants this thing over more than I do, I'd like my life back." The last remark proved to be too much when people considered the families of the 11 Oil Rig workers who had lost their lives; the fishermen and their families who had lost their heritage, may-be forever; the communities who's economics depended on tourism to their now ruined beaches; and the wildlife and sea life that were either wiped out, dead, dying, or covered in oil.
Nevada McPherson protests in Lafayette Park, AP

Outrage against Tony Hayward and British Petroleum erupted. There were widespread rallies and on the Internet Boycott petitions began to circulate. The message was clear, don't buy BP gas. But was this really the smartest way to punish BP? Wouldn't this primarily punish the Everyday Joe American, who had paid good money (or financed) to own a gas station? Could he get out of contracts with BP to supply his station gas, in order to buy from another supplier?

Then there is the question that none of us want to face, are we guilty in this environmental disaster also? Is it our addiction for oil that made this disaster possible?

Do we want to look that deeply, or do we just want to blame BP?

Pictures here have been credited to their photographer when I've been able. If any pictures belong and you want them removed, please let me know and they will be removed at your written request. Otherwise, thank-you for their use.

Monday, June 14, 2010


A few days ago, my daughter was challenged to write a limerick. She didn't find it easy, so her brother, hoping to help her with the challenge, scanned our shelves and gave her a Book of Poetry he had gotten for Christmas when he was probably about 7. And probably never opened since that Christmas morning soo long ago.

Sob! (Thinking back to those days always makes me a bit misty eyed. I am one of those women who really enjoyed having a handful of little children under her feet.)

My son suggested that the following poem from his Christmas book might fit nicely on my blog. I agreed, so here it is:

Kindness To Animals

Little children, never give

Pain to things that feel and live;

Let the gentle robin come

For the crumbs you save at home;

As his meat you throw along

He'll repay you with a song.

Never hurt the timid hare

Peeping from her green grass lair,

Let her come and sport and play

On the lawn at close of day.

The little lark goes soaring high

To the bright windows of the sky,

Singing as if 'twere always spring,

Amd fluttering on an untrired wing-

Oh! let him sing his happy song,

Nor do these gentle creatures wrong.

Author Unknown

Thursday, June 10, 2010


I can't tell you how ridiculously thrilled I was when I found out that our new home was in a community that had mandatory recycling! Recycling has been my goal ever since I was about 11 or 12 years old, but in most of the communities that I lived in, I was a child before my time. In fact, I lived in the age when there wasn't even a deposit charged on a soda (pop) bottle. Now this is truly unique if you consider that when both my father and my children were kids, there was a deposit required on a bottle of soda(pop). I was the generation of children that grew up without this fundraising option!

In fact, when my family moved to a much more rural and farm-like area, I was looked at with scorn, and as if I was crazy when I asked them about recycling. "There's plenty of room at the dump." Bobby replied to my question with a look that said "what can you expect except dumb from a city slicker," and I hadn't lived any where near the city!

So, here I am, living in recycle USA and I'm still not happy! As Ricky Ricardo from "I Love Lucy" would say, "Wot hoppened?" When we first moved in, we always had more recycling than what the town gave us a container for. Before the town got their fancy shmanzy armed trucks for collecting the recycling, this wasn't a problem. Have more than what the container has room for? Not a problem, put the extra into cardboard boxes or into a plastic garbage can and put it at the curb with everything else. The men manually loaded it onto the collection truck. Home relatively clear to start the cycle all over again.

And then it happened, the Town decided to do single stream recycling, and humans would no longer load or recyclables onto the truck; a truck would do it.

They even gave each resident a nice, big, tan colored can that worked with the trucks lifting arm.

And what should be even more good news to me, the Town would be collecting even more recyclable categories, so there would be even less garbage! Though now, with the bigger recyclables can, the recyclables will only be picked up twice a month, instead of every week. Not good news for us.

Because now we are immersed in recyclables! We can no longer use cardboard boxes or trash cans for the overflow, because the truck arm can not pick those up.

So I called Town Hall, and they gave me a number to call, and eventually I will be able to get a recyclables pick up truck to come every time our recyclables can is filled.

It just hasn't happened yet. What has happened though, is the constantly staring at all this mess in my kitchen, in my hallway and on my back porch is making me change my mind on recycling.

But, that's another blog.

To be continued..........

Monday, June 7, 2010

What Makes My Mondays-not what but who

What makes my Monday, this time it is easy because the what is really a who. Who makes my Mondays, my sweet husband of 30+ years.

Why? Because of all the things he does, never expecting anyone to sing his praises. Every single day, day in - day out.

1. He goes to work, even if he is sick. Truly, I have to make him stay home when he is sick, and even then, it's probably the one thing we argue about.

2. He has saved us a TON of money by his fixing my car.

3. He has saved us a ton of money because we've never had to call in painters. He's done it, and done a great job.

4. We've never had to have a repairman in to fix our washer or our dishwasher. Again, he fixed it.

5. He is my GPS. He maps the way for me before I have to go, taking a lot of the jitters out of my trip.

6. He never gave up on me making it, even when I had my own doubts about it.

Find more things to make your Mondays:twinfatuation.blogspot.com/.../makes-my-monday

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Teaching an Old Dog

They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks, but I have to disagree. Well, sort of. Louis is almost six, does that qualify him as an 'old dog?' Well .....

Everyday, as I go about my tasks, Louis follows me, his tail slightly wagging. Watching me. His eager expression seems to say, "I can do that Mom!"

So I tried to train him to take a plastic bottle out of my hand and put it into the recycling bin. It took a lot of effort, and a lot of doggie treats, but Louis got the idea. The next step was to put the plastic bottle on the floor, and get Louis to pick it up and put it into the bin. After more effort, a lot of patience and a ton of doggie treats, Louis got the idea.

It's hard to tell who was more proud of Louis' accomplishment, Louis or me. The whole family was impressed.

What did I do??

Because when there weren't any bottles on the floor for Louis to put into the bin, he began to scan the side tables for them. Stealthily, he would come up to the bottle, for all the world like a great white approaching it's prey, and then, SNATCH! The bottle was his and on it's way to the recycling bin.

And often the bottle slopped out someone's drink on it's way to the recycling bin. I tried to discourage him, I reprimanded him, and I outright yelled "NO!" He would be momentarily halted, but any plastic bottles out of the recycling bin really bothered him. So he would lay quietly on the floor, looking at the bottle. If I caught his eye, he would downcast them, surreptitiously peeking up to see if I had gone back to reading or watching the tv. Then, soft click, click, click of my dog's nails as he was doing a dog tip toe, and SNATCH! The bottle was in the recycling bin. I gave up. We warned anyone who bought a beverage with them, to cap their drink in between sips.

And when there were no bottles around at all? Louis would go to the recycling bin, take a bottle out, dog flip it into the air, and chase after it to nab it, and put it back into the bin.

So, you tell me. Did I teach our old dog a new trick?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

My new car

"So," my husband asked conversationally, "what kind of car do you want next?"

Not a good question to ask me. His question would probably send most women into daydreaming, but not me. Why? Because I hate cars.

I hate the car payment that comes with them. I hate the increase in insurance that comes with them. I hate the feeling of every mile that goes on the odometer taking away the dollar value of the car. I hate the feeling of doom with a tight corner, a scratch or any new sound the car makes. I just genuinely hate cars.

"You have to have a car." my husband says in a voice that smacks of the knowledge that I can't possibly have an argument for something so obvious.

Ha! You'd think that being married thirty something years, he'd know better. Apparently not.

"No I don't." Well that answer was a bit far from brilliant.

"How are you going to get around then?" he asks, still knowing that he has me in a corner.

"I'll get a horse!"

"A horse!" Yep, he never expected that answer. Score one for Mary.

"Yes a horse! Think about it, no carbon emissions," here my son rudely laughs, he knows he has me, "no having to buy it gas, or oil." More rude laughter from the testosterone crowd. "Fine, but it's 'exhaust' is good for the garden." I counter hotly.

"What happens when it gets sick?"

"The same as a car, but instead of bringing it to the mechanic, we bring it to the vet."

"I wonder which one is cheaper," my husband muses. "The vet or the mechanic."

"And instead of having to pay someone to tow away a dead car, we can sell the horse to the glue factory." I finish, warming up to my rant.

"Mom!" protests one of the estrogen set.

"Which reminds me," says a member of the testosterone set, "Roses are red, violets are blue, horses that lose, soon become glue!" He breaks into laughter.

To be continued


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