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Friday, November 30, 2007

Mind Your Manners

Manners. Etiquette. Protocol. Formality. Polite Society.

These are not words that we visit very often any more; they all imply behaviour that is meant to benefit others in society, are outward facing and not particularly concerned with one's inner child, self-fulfillment, personal freedom or instant gratification.

They are not cool, man! Take it easy! Don't be so stiff, uptight, old-fashioned! Call everybody by their first name, as if they were your best friend. What is the matter with that? We're all equal, right?

It can certainly be nice to let your hair down, throw on some sweats and mosey into class, work, a church or a restaurant, right? I mean who wants to go to all the trouble of getting dressed up? (I am guilty of this one in particular, and am certainly not excluding myself from my own criticism. I shall not permit myself to watch TV for 2 weeks or until I clean up my act!)

I started to ponder all this as I was making another desperate attempt to sort through the daily mail, as well as the pile that accumulated while I was up in Tahoe. Why do I get so much darn mail? I get at least 3 letters a day (right now it can be as many as 7 or 8) from various charities wanting money from me. Some are worthy, some less so, some I suspect are even scams. I would need several hours a day just to sort through, read and respond to all of these requests (not to mention that I would soon be broke).

How did this happen? How did seemingly everyone with a cause get my name and address?

I'll tell you how! I gave money to a few charities or causes, and lights and bells went off somewhere in a room where someone shouted "We've got a live one!" A sucker. That's me!

So, what does this have to do with manners, etiquette and the like? Please let me explain.

After the alarm was sounded, my name was quickly entered into a database and was sold, traded and even written on the bathroom walls of a few upstart political campaign offices. I was officially fair game! It is "anything goes" because businesses, politicians and even charities have taken society's lead and have abolished those trivial niceties that would have prevented the phone from ringing at dinnertime and my personal information from being treated as an asset to be exploited for others' gain.

It seems that all of those stuffy old rituals served a purpose after all! Maybe they were a pain in the arse sometimes, maybe they interfered with one's personal freedoms, but they also protected us from ourselves and others and in many cases were the grease that allowed the gears of society to turn.

Nowadays, because we all insist on the right to act like spoiled children in a candy store, we have to make laws to force people to behave in the way they should have in the first place. And if you think stuffy old society limited your personal freedom, just wait until you get a load of what the government can do.

Let's make 2008 the year that manners and civility replace the aria of "me me me me"!

Just because you can, doesn't mean you should!

Pass it on!

RH

Monday, November 26, 2007

Made In America

Hi All,

After all the "Made in China" scares, I am making an attempt to buy my Christmas gifts "Made in the USA" or Europe at least, especially when it comes to toys for my nieces and stocking stuffers and gifts for my own two teenagers. It isn't as easy as I thought, so I am compiling a list and I will publish it here as I find new Made in the USA resources.

I have nothing against foreign made products, except when they cut costs at the expense of the safety of the consumer. Then, I believe the best remedy is "Money Talks" so I am Yakking away!

  1. HearthSong - Great site for toys. They have a discount shipping coupon too (for $4.99 flat rate shipping)! Use coupon code HSA056 at checkout.
  2. Made in the USA @ Orvis - I had the Orvis customer service help me with this! The link should automatically call up all of the Orvis products that are "Made in the USA". And, while I was visiting the site, I found a nifty coupon code: FALL2007 good for $10 off $100+ purchase. Orvis has really nice stuff...if you have a sporty guy or gal on your list, be sure and check them out.
  3. Vermont Country Store - Here is a list of products at the VCS that are Made in the USA - Some are even handmade! I like the Fisherman's Sweaters - would make great gifts.
  4. Lehman's Toy Selection Made in the USA - Check out the handmade Ann and Andy Dolls - Now there's a retro gift idea!
  5. Drugstore.com has a selection of Made in USA toys: Buy toys made in the USA at drugstore.com
  6. TBC


December 7th Follow-Up: I was listening to NPR the other day and they happened to be discussing a study of 12,000 children's toys and which ones had toxic levels of this and that. Their findings were not encouraging to say the least. They mentioned this site: Healthytoys.org where you can go and check different toys against their list of findings. One of their findings stuck in my head: Children's jewelry was found to contain enormous amounts of lead. Which jewelry, I can't say, but considering that jewelry is worn next to the skin, and can easily be put in mouths, I'd be extra careful if you are planning to buy jewelry for a child. Remember: Nothing messes you up quite like lead!


RH

Friday, November 23, 2007

Hope You Had a Fabulous Thanksgiving

I meant to write yesterday and wish the world a Happy Thanksgiving, but what with cooking, eating and then flopping down on the couch like an overstuffed walrus, I just didn't get to it! I am sure you can relate!

Although I have to admit, my daughter cooked 90% of the meal! Oh JOY! Can you believe it? A daughter who can make an entire Thanksgiving dinner including 2 homemade pumpkin pies and cranberry sauce from scratch - meaning she started with berries and sugar. A truly proud moment in a mother's life!

And today, well today we are feasting on variations of turkey, which will inevitably answer the yearly question of "Turkey is so delicious, why don't we make it more often?" that is always posed as hungry feasters savor their first bite of turkey and stuffing.

Two days later, as one sits at the morning breakfast table pondering the turkey omelet, that sits on the table in front of us, we nod our heads in understanding and mutter... "Oh Yeah, That's Why"

***
On another note, I have been scouring the Internet and all of the Black Friday sales hoping to find the perfect bargain on 1 pair skis, 2 snowboards, some cross country skis or maybe snowshoes, and all the boots, poles, gloves and other paraphernalia that one needs in the snow. This year will be our first winter in our little cabin in the mountains, and the winter activities are an integral part of my 2008 diet plan. Did you know that cross country skiing burns up to 800 calories an hour? Size 8 (OK 10) here I come!

***
On a final note, one of the reasons I have not yet found even a pair of ear muffs, is that I was distracted my email which kept turning up even more fabulous offers for things that were not 1 pair skis, 2 snowboards, some cross country skis or maybe snowshoes, or all the boots, poles, gloves and other paraphernalia that one needs in the snow.

One of the offers that kept me busy for an hour and a half was this EXTRA 50% Off + $2.99 shipping coupon (coupon code: FRIENDS77 ) from Designer Linens Outlet. You can either sign up for the newsletter and get the code, or just use mine! Pretty awesome deal if you ask me!

The other offers were from my favorite designer rag site Yoox, they have some fun offers: Free Shipping, an Extra 20% Off and the ubiquitous Holiday Gift Guide.

Don't spend all your money today though, because after Black Friday comes Cyber Monday...that's when it's time to roll up your sleeves and get serious.

RH

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Spa 101

I don't know why I don't do this more often! Have "Treatments" (In the vernacular of spa people) at the spa I mean! Maybe it's the fact that one can quickly run up a bill of several hundred dollars... and still be tempted to cash in the college fund of your first born for additional treatments!
Luckily, the Red Lane Spa (as all the spas are called at Sandals resorts) was having a special for novices like me (this will have been my 3rd spa visit - ever - but I promise you not my last), and was offering a Spa Sampler - 50 minutes of sheer heaven that included a massage and facial for $99 - that is a bargain, believe me. And just to ease my guilt a bit, I brought my daughter too as it is her tuition that would be at stake! (For now, college is still on!)

The special offer was the real deal - no skimping or up selling - and our specialists, Dwight and Andrea were just that: Specialists!

Oops gotta run... Got a pedicure in 10 minutes!

RH

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream...

I dreamt I got on a plane and flew to Jamaica! It was one of those dreams that seemed very real, but then what in the world would I be doing in Jamaica just before Thanksgiving?

And then I woke up, looked out the window and saw this:

And then I realized that sometimes dreams DO come true!

Greetings from beautiful Sandals Resort in Jamaica!

RH

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Latest Dirty Word - "Christmas"

Perhaps I am overreacting, perhaps I am just getting old, but I sort of liked the word "Christmas" and all it stood for and I am sorry to see it replaced by "Generic Shopping Season #6" or as those with clever marketing minds refer to it "The Holidays".

In the old days, the phrase "The Holidays" was used to refer to several celebratory occasions, usually occurring close together on the calendar. Back then we called it "plural". But now, since "Christmas" has been deemed profane, "The Holidays" is now a euphemism for that-which-cannot-be spoken. If there were a union for words, I dare say they would call out a strike in protest of the extra work generic words must perform these days!

That lazy Christmas! No wonder it is an unmentionable! Sitting around relaxing in the sun sipping eggnog while poor Holiday must now handle both singular and plural duties! And what of the effects on the other words? Shall they also be corrupted by Christmases' sloth? It can't be long until "Passover" and "Ramadan" catch on and join Christmas in the Bermudas!

And that sneaky "Birthday" is just waiting for the day that science perfects the test-tube-baby process forcing us to retire "Birthday" lest we offend those-who-were-technically-not-born. That means Holiday will have to work 365 days a year, work overtime during Generic Shopping Seasons 1-6, AND pull duty as an adjective! (Holiday stone, Holiday certificate).

What if Holiday goes on strike? Then what? What if all the words go to the Bermudas to sip eggnog and lie in the sun?

Woof. Woof Woof Woof, Bow Wow, Woof Woof? WOOF, WOOF WOOF!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Say What?

Those excitable Belgians are at it again! Not content to just sit around and make chocolate or devise new ways to make Belgium difficult to find on a map, the Belgians have decided to embark on a program of polite ethnic cleansing.

Porquoi? One may ask, if one is not afraid of being bopped over the head with a stale baguette. It seems that the Belgians are no longer coping very well with most of the country speaking Dutch, while a handful of renegades insist on speaking French.

Tensions are mounting in Belgium: Witnesses have told horrific tales of "seasoned politicians rolling their eyes and tut-tutting" and there have been unconfirmed reports that the Belgians have just broken their own post-war record for squabbling (148 days, set in 1988, over a disagreement about what color to paint the knobs on regulation post-modern maritime mailboxes). Citizens interviewed on the streets of Brussels have claimed that the situation was "most upsetting".

It is unclear how or why this latest linguistic opschudding has occurred, although there is a rumor that it all started when a French speaking Belgian made the assertion that "French is a much prettier language than Dutch" and that "Dutch is really just German with bad spelling".

Het is de oorlog!!!!

RH