Monthly Archives: October 2010

10 Overpriced Products to Avoid

I recently spoke to a caller who lamented that at some point she was going to have to stop being an at-home mom and go back to work to make ends meet.  I said that move was not an option, because abandoning children into institutionalized day care is the last desperate move – not the first or an intermediate one.

I told her to “budget, budget, budget,” and mentioned that my husband and I were budgeting just like most Americans, and I hadn’t bought any new clothes in so many months, I can’t even remember, and I had no idea what the current fashions even were.  She mentioned that she shopped for clothes at second-hand stores.  I stopped her right there and challenged why she was even bothering to do that.  What is the female necessity for a constant flow of new clothes?  Unless there is a specific need, doing that is a continuous waste of money, although “going shopping” together is a way for females to bond and have entertainment.

Then I found an article in the Economizer section of www.walletpop.com, entitled “10 Most Overpriced Products You Should Avoid.”  It was eye-opening, and should become wallet-closing!

1.  Text Messages
According to a story in the Chicago Tribune, outgoing 160-character text messages on a cell phone typically cost users 20 cents, while they only cost the carrier three-tenths of a cent to process.  That’s a 6000% profit!  600 text messages contain less data than one minute of a phone call.  If text data rates are applied, a brief cell phone conversation would cost $120!  So CALL….don’t text.

2. Bottled Water
Water that is pre-packaged is more expensive than a gallon of gas.  Since about 40% of bottled water comes from municipal taps, you’re better off refilling that plastic bottle at home and toting it around.

3.  Movie Theatre Popcorn
When you pay $6 for a medium-sized bag of popcorn in theatres, you’re paying a markup of $1,275%, compared to the cost of buying three 3.5 oz bags of microwaveable popcorn sold in a box for about $3.  Besides, you don’t need the calories.

4.  Brand name drugs
Over-the-counter medications were at the top of a recent WalletPop.com list of products to always buy generic.  In the past year, the cost of brand name prescriptions has increased nearly 10% while generics have dropped.  The recommendation was to check out Costco for lower generic medication prices.

5.  Hotel mini-bars
$10 for a bottle of water?  $12 for a tube of toothpaste? A 1300% markup on Gummy Bears?  Keep that fridge door closed!!

6.  Coffee
A $3 cup of coffee can be made at home for a quarter.  Check out Topdogcoffeebar.com – they roast ‘em, and you brew ‘em.

7.  Wine
Restaurants pay $5 wholesale for a bottle of wine and charge customers $25.  A glass of wine can have a higher markup because the bottle can be thrown away if all of it isn’t used.

8.  Greeting cards
The greeting cards anyone ever keeps are those made by hand.  Enough said.

9. Hotel In-Room Movies
You pay 200% more for “convenience.”  How about bringing your computer and DVDs, or bring your Netflix movie from home?   If the hotel has wi-fi, use Netflix streaming.

10.  Pre-cut vegetables
Sometimes, you pay as much as 40% more if the grocery pre-cuts them.  Go to your local farmer’s market and get fresher products at greater deals.

There are a zillion ways to save dollars at almost every turn.  We have come to see “conveniences” as necessities, when they’re actually very expensive.

Quote of the Week

My grandfather once told me that there are two kinds of people:  those who do the work and those who take the credit.  He told me to try to be in the first group; there was less competition there.
               - Indira Gandhi
                  Former Prime Minister of the Republic of India
                  Assassinated in 1984
                  1917 – 1984

Good News About A Good Guy

I read a good news story about an average guy who rescued an 8 year old girl who had been abducted and sexually assaulted by a creep in Fresno, California.  Have you heard about this?  Ahhh, probably not. 

Did you hear the story about the airline steward who jumped from a plane?  Yes!  That was big news! 

Did you hear the one about the party crashers at the White House?  Yes again!  That also was big news. 

Have you been constantly reminded about Lindsay Lohan’s latest stupid behavior?  Yes, yes, and yes again. So why have you not heard about Victor Perez who gave chase in his own pickup truck when he recognized the vehicle matching the description of the one used in the abduction?

I have the simple and sad answer to that question.  Take one part human nature  (where the unusual, exotic, creepy, and horrific stimulate more of a reaction than sweetness and compassion), add one part media attention to the bizarre and to people behaving badly, and finally one part the reward given to those who act out everyone’s adolescent urges to be free of all restraints of morality and common decency.  In other words:  bad behavior gets more attention than good because of the universal yearnings to have the power to say “screw everyone – I’ll do my own thing, and if you don’t like it, tough on you!

Mr. Perez noticed the car passing by while he was chatting with his cousin.  He could have simply called 911 and not gotten involved, but he yelled for his cousin to make the call and then hopped in his truck and took chase, cutting the bad guy off a number of times.  At first, he wasn’t sure it was the bad guy, until the little girl stuck her head out the window.

That was all it took for Mr. Perez to get into gear.  He exchanged words with the abductor who kept trying to hide the girl, and then finally just cut him off so the bad guy had to stop, at which time he pushed the girl out of the truck and took off.

The bad guy, Gregorio Gonzales, is a gang banger on probation no less (someone’s head should roll!) for a felony domestic violence conviction with numerous arrests, including suspicion of possessing a sawed-off shotgun.

It did cross Mr. Perez’s mind that this creep could have a gun and shoot him, but that didn’t deter him from trying to help the little girl.  That’s the thing about good guys – they tend to forge ahead in spite of possible injury or even death.  When asked why he did that, Mr. Perez answered simply:  “It was the right thing to do.”

According to the news report from www.msnbc.com, two other adults saw what was happening when a stranger approached a group of children, and they shouted for the girls to run away.  That’s all.  They shouted.  They didn’t run towards him.  They didn’t run into the street to force him to stop or swerve.  They shouted. 

Mr. Perez put his life on the line.

That is one of the reasons bad guys feel emboldened to snatch kids off the street in broad daylight:  they know there are very few “Mr. Perezes.”

Reality TV Tolerates Child Abuse

Whether you call it “reality,” or “actuality,” it makes for “trash” television on purpose.

Matt Philbin, managing editor of the Culture and Media Institute says: “Reality television plays to people’s worst instincts and depends on people behaving badly, manipulating others, lying and violence.”

In my opinion, that’s putting it mildly.

Reality TV is the disgusting intent to make money by catering to the lowest qualities in human beings:  being entertained by death, evil, mayhem, cruelty, and downright stupidity.

MTV’s contribution to the waste of the airwaves, Teen Mom (which, by the way, targets down to 12 year olds) shows Amber Portwood violently kicked, punched, and slapped by her on-again/off-again fiancé, and the father of her illegitimate and most unlucky child.  She responds with a vulgar tirade – all in front of the child – and the cameras roll…and the cameras roll.
 
Nobody thinks of this as child abuse?  I do. Upon viewing that video, authorities from Child Protective Services should have taken that child into protective custody and attempted to terminate their parental (and I use that term loosely) rights.

In season 2 of E!’s “Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami,” Fox News reports “Terrified new mom Kourtney was seen cowering and locking herself in a room with their then five-month old, as Scott Disick litters the floor with broken glass amid a violent alcohol-involved tirade.”

Grossly bad behavior these days is fodder for a TV show, with fame, fortune, nice cars, and a fabulous lifestyle as a reward.

I demand to know, considering there is video evidence, why Child Protective Services in neither case has taken the child away from each of these unfit mothers?   I’m not an attorney, but I believe this is criminal activity and I know it’s psychologically abusive to the children, as well as downright dangerous to them.

We don’t seem to have come far from the Christians/lions and gladiators as entertainment.

Blood, violence, fury, danger, vulgar displays – these form the core of the TV shows we see now.  I long for the good old days.

Sexual Harassment and Assault in Middle School

Here’s a scenario:  some scummy high school boy pulls down your 13-year-old daughter’s sweatpants in front of other students at a middle school in New Jersey.  The combination of harassment and assault is reported to the school.  What happens?  The school superintendent asks you, the mother, what kind of underwear your daughter wears in order to determine what was revealed, as though the punishment should fit the size of her drawers instead of the crime itself.

You attend a school seminar on bullying where the principal does not discuss this assault.  You’ve had it with the school not taking the case seriously, so you follow him into the hall and curse him out.  You then calm down, apologize and go home.

What does the school choose to do?  Why, file a complaint against the mother for disorderly conduct!  Can you believe the gall of the guys who run this school and school district?  I guess “boys will be boys,” and if they assault a girl, well, it’s all in fun – but if the mother gets mad enough to read you out, well,  that’s unacceptable.

The name of the school is Hasbrouck Heights Middle School.

The superintendent with the lascivious question about the girl’s underwear is Joseph Luongo.

The principal is Edward Bocar.

This incident happened last year, but the judge who had the good sense to dismiss the charges a few weeks ago is Bergen County Judge Roy F. McGeady, the good guy in all of this.

By the way, mom is moving forward with a lawsuit against the school.

I believe the boy in question should be brought up on charges of sexual harassment and sexual assault.

I think the superintendent’s mother should smack her son silly.

The principal who can’t handle a genuinely and appropriately upset mother should be forced to take sensitivity classes.

Quote of the Week

There are three things that are extremely hard:  steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self.
               – Benjamin Franklin
                 One of the Founding Fathers of the United States
                 1706-1790