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March 21, 2005

Get rid of it, redux

I'm pretty sure that this is not the answer to my underwear shopping issues.

March 19, 2005

Get RID of it!

My pal S. recently moved in to new digs in the north end. She and her sweetheart have been gradually furnishing their home and filling in their kitchen cabinets using Freecycle.

Now I am totally addicted to giving stuff away to total strangers. Oh, sure, I could get it together and have a yard sale, lord knows, I could use the cash, but then I'd have to dicker with the early morning bargain seekers and even worse, I'd have to drag everything out on the porch, price it all, and deal with the stuff that didn't sell. Or I could fill the car and drive down to the Goodwill. That means I'd have to get organized. No way.

Check it out, this is so easy! You just post the thing you want to get rid of (for free, of course) and someone emails you, like, right then, and says "I can come and get it today at 530. Work for you?" It's awesome. You could probably say this: "Yup, that works fine, but bring a friend coz I can't do any lifting."

It's excellent. I'm sure you have something you've been meaning to get rid of and it's just too much trouble. Go on. There's a Freecycle listserv near you. So far, I've unloaded that brown student desk that I could not get rid of on Craig's List and that stupid Ikea lamp with the terrible design.

March 10, 2005

I love IKEA, I hate IKEA

Considering that I just spent about nine hours putting together two flipping end tables, I don't even know where to start with this one... But how about this: how about when IKEA addresses the issue of male/female sex characteristics, it also show something useful in the instructions? Something along the lines of how to put the damn thing together?

OSLO, Norway (Reuters) -- Swedish home furnishings giant IKEA is guilty of sex discrimination by showing only men putting together furniture in its instruction manuals, Norway's prime minister says.

January 31, 2005

Would You Like Outsourcing With That Order?

So I guess when it gets too expensive to do business in one state, go to the next, right? Oregon McDonalds (and some in Eastern Washington) are now outsourcing to other states. So when you drive up to the order window you order is taken via the phone line some 1500 miles away in North Dakota, a photo is taken and all the information is sent back to that location and your order processed?

Why, you might ask? The minimum wage in Oregon is $7.50 while the minimum wage in North Dakota is only $5.15.

Is McDonalds not making enough money off their Mad Cow Burgers that they need to rape employees now?

Food for Thought!

January 25, 2005

North vs. South

Why Costco is better than Wal-Mart

First, I should disclose that I am a big fan of Costco – even before I found out the things that have been reported lately. Costco is the closest thing to a corporate co-op surviving in the world, today. Wal-Mart on the other hand is a nasty, soulless place that I can not stand. And I have concrete reasons for feeling the way that I do.

Health Care Benefits:

According to In These Times Wal-Mart only insures 45% of its workforce:

“At Wal-Mart, full-time workers have to endure six months—and part-timers, two years—before applying for health coverage through the company. Wal-Mart told the New York Times in November that about 77 percent of its employees are eligible for health coverage through the company plan. But since Wal-Mart saddles its staff with 33 percent premiums, the coverage often costs more than $200 a month per worker to maintain—a steep price for workers making between $8 and $10 per hour. As a result, just 58 percent of those eligible, less than half of all workers, or about 537,000 people, actually have the insurance.”

It’s not just that these workers have no insurance it’s that their communities are having to pick up the bill for these people and their families:

“When Wal-Mart bows out on covering the healthcare costs of staff members, the public often picks up the tab. More than 10,000 Georgia children whose parents work at Wal-Mart are on a state health program, thus neatly passing on the $10 million yearly expense to state residents. And in California, taxpayers are footing the bill for about $32 million in healthcare costs from Wal-Mart workers that the employer would typically cover.”

I don’t care how inexpensive it is to purchase stuff at Wal-Mart. Their employment policies are too expensive for everyone else.

Costco is a much more responsible employer:

“Not all companies have torn up the social contract. Costco, a competitor in the large-scale retail business, provides insurance to more than 19 out of every 20 of its workers and pays more than 90 percent of the premium.”

Political Party Donations:

In the 2004 election cycle Wal-Mart’s contributions were split 80-20 in favor of the Republicans. Conversely, Costco had a 98-2 split favoring Democrats. Wal-Mart and its affiliated properties gave over $2 million while Costco donated only a little over $200,000. (Thanks to the Joe Spin Zone for the reference to choose the blue.)

They gave all of that money so, Wal-Mart can continue to intimidate its workers seeking to unionize in the US while the Chinese have forced Wal-Mart to have a workers’ union. Wal-Mart can continue with its unofficial policy to pay women less and offer poverty level pay and benefits packages. Even if you could buy a “refrigerator for $3” knowing that I was helping a company to succeed with its unfair practices isn’t worth it.

January 03, 2005

If you have to ask the price...

... you can't afford it. This maxim definitely applies to QUALIA, the new hyper-premium consumer electronics line from Sony. The website (gorgeous, natch) doesn't list any prices. But those amazing headphones? $3,000. I hesitate to think what the digital projector costs, but the product description is some of the hottest technoporn I've read in a while. Oh yeah, baby, give me your Carl Zeiss optics and your solid-aluminum lens barrel! Hot!

Read it and drool.

December 13, 2004

Just in time for Christmas

From Tom's Dispatch via Alternet is this year's shopping list, featuring The Gift of War.

Okay dads, we hear you! Sure, you want to steep junior in the military experience, but skip the dolls, right? Then you'll definitely want to invest in the Military Role Play Set from "Manley" (I kid you not). With recent top-brass pronouncements that U.S. forces are likely to be in Iraq for at least the next 5-10 years, you can't start too early acclimating junior to the desert-camo-colored play set that includes a helmet, knife, gas mask, and a few grenades. You know he'll grin when he pulls the pin!

Also, there's an unbelievably odd Hilary doll.

October 21, 2004

If your blog needs hosting...

And, if it's a blog, it does... Use Tranquil Blog Hosting. Mark, the owner, is both a class-A Linux geek and a soldier for the forces of good in a world beset by evil and ignorance.

No, really. Many of you know what I'm talking about. He has gone so far above the call of duty that the other hosting providers should be ashamed any time his name comes up.

As David can tell you, I am not a genius when it comes to the technical parts of blog-owner-dom. I play HTML by ear, mangle CSS, and have a nasty habit of wanting to futz with the inner workings of MySQL. I really know how to fuck all that shit up, in addition to losing my password and all the normal stupid stuff English majors do online. Now that I think about, Mark has probably saved my young marriage a few times--if David had had to fix my errors, it could have gotten ugly. Mark just fixes everything with a smile--and a really pleasant Carolina drawl.

So seriously, friends, tell anyone you know: is the way to go.

September 17, 2004

Soap, Steam and Golden Tans

As we move into the Seattle Fall Season of five to eight months of rain, it gave me great pleasure to find a little quip that caught my eye in the current issue of Dwell. Now that the boating season has come to a close my greatest worry is the maintenance of my bronze glowing skin. I mean, what is more is more important than retaining the appearance of winters in the desert and holiday trips to Mexico? Who know you could do it in your very own shower!!! Having become ever so increasingly bored with multiple jets and fiber-optic lighting, I am thrilled to know that in the process of cleaning my butt cheeks I can tan them as well. Glory be to modern inventions. Let us raise a can of beer in the shower and cheer clean Hoo-Has and tanned Tally-winkers!!!
If the down right fear of getting electrocuted in the shower doesn’t get you, knowing that you beautiful bronze skin will fall off one day, will!

September 15, 2004

a diamond is your best friend

This is taking recycling way too far.

September 14, 2004

This is Broken

This Is Broken is not broken at all. It's a wonderful way to "make businesses more aware of their
customer experience, and how to fix it." Check it out!

August 10, 2004

Bag Borrow or Steal

Bag Borrow or Steal: like Netflix for purses. Have fun, ladies!

July 16, 2004

Junk mail for the soul

I like junk mail. It’s not that I am persuaded to buy things that are advertised or that I rely on mailbox ads to inform or influence my purchasing decisions. I just like to see how people are willing to spend direct mail budgets for promotion to consumers. Sorting through the flyers and envelopes tells me that my local economy isn’t dead. It makes me hopeful for the future. I get the usual stuff, offers for painting, maid service, check printing, local restaurant coupons. It’s all pretty mundane, but comforting. Every once in a while though, I get something that makes me sit back and say, “What the ----?”

Today, I was sorting through one of the two envelopes of multiple coupons that show up in my box and was thrown off a step. An advertisement telling me to “Let them know where you stand,” and “Order yours today!” For only $12.95 plus shipping and handling I can buy a t-shirt that has the US flag and the words, “Stand for the Pledge” on the front and on the back is printed the pledge of allegiance with the words “under God” printed in all caps and contrasting ink. Well, it’s pretty obvious where this organization stands on the issue.
I, since graduating junior high, have never said the pledge. As an indoctrination tool the pledge is pretty handy. Even if you don’t really know what it means or get the words wrong when it is first taught in elementary school, by the time you’re 13 you’ll never forget the thing. For those of us raised post-1954 the words “under God” are stuck there by years of repetition. Even if the words eventually are removed, I would probably say them out of habit. Of course, I would have to actually recite the pledge again and I doubt there are any circumstances under which I would ever…oh, hello, Attorney General Ashcroft, would you like to borrow my copy of The Children’s Story by James Clavell or perhaps, The Anthem by Ayn Rand?
Hey, even I understand and appreciate the cultural value of religion. I spent 11 years in plaid polyester listening to nuns. You miss the meaning of a lot of jokes and trivia questions without formal religious education. You underestimate the perversity and cruelty of authority figures and guilt just isn’t the same if you haven’t been instructed within the confines of religious dogma. So, now that you know this about me, you’ll understand why I had to find out more about these t-shirt guys.
The website for this group is (the photo albums are especially instructive). It was started by a former high school football coach who was fired from his position as the result of a suit brought by the ACLU alleging that the coaching staff was forcing the players to pray, join a particular church and listen to long sermons in the locker room. There were also accusations of speaking in tongues and the laying on of hands. That would have been a pretty impressive half-time show. On the Minute Men United site they claim the out-of-court settlement was a victory for Coach Dave. Upon looking into the case a little further, it is clear that the school district agreed to the settlement, fired this guy and is now subject to serious fines should any of this type of behavior be reported in the future.
So what does an unemployable high school football coach do? He starts a ministry exhorting his followers to harass, harangue and generally despise anyone that disagrees with him. The pledge of allegiance isn’t his only issue. He and his United Minute Men are taking their brand of morality into battle against the separation of church and state (they picketed in support of Judge Roy Moore in Alabama), reproductive choice and homosexuality. They don’t even like W very much. Next week in their effort to “save America” they will proclaim Jesus Christ “King over America” in Columbus, Ohio. Apparently, a federal republic can’t maintain “moral clarity” only the divine right of kings will do for these guys.
I won’t buy the t-shirt. Not because the funds would go to support this organization or that I disagree with their opinion. I won’t buy this shirt for the same reason that I don’t buy the porcelain kittens or printed caftans. But I will recycle the paper.

June 24, 2004

CB2: thoughts?

So like probably a lot of other good consumers, I just got an email from Crate and Barrel about CB2, which is clearly their new hipper! younger! brighter! (slightly) cheaper! brand. So far there's only one store (Chicago) but the ecommerce site is pretty good. But some of the products are a bit wack if well-intentioned. If I surfed here too much, David and I would end up with a lot of cool stuff that doesn't really fit our house all that well.

It's clearly a reaction to last year's launch of West Elm by Williams-Sonoma as a hipper East Coast offset to PB's crushingly expensive simulacra of West Coast trust fund decor. (My feeling about West Elm is, "great if you like that sort of thing." It also fairly screams "lipstick lesbian" with all those purple sequins.) It also feels like a bit of a feint towards the Design Within Reach market. All of these brands are desperately shouting "Put down the IKEA catalog now, and nobody gets hurt!"

Oh, yeah. This is a new category: Consume or Consumerr? As in, is this something you'd want, or something that looks like a grevious error from the net guy to be fired from Product Dev? (I'm hoping this category will finally lure Marti to post and not just comment.) Have fun with it!