Posts Tagged ‘miscellaneous’

Do You Feel Appreciated at Work Today?

My company is not known for coddling its employees with comfort.  We don’t get free coffee or free spring water.  There are no free snacks sitting in the kitchen for an afternoon pick-me-up.   The majority of the employees do not work in attractive work spaces.  We don’t have nice views.  In fact, many of us don’t have a view at all or even a window.  We do have decent cubicles, a nice chair, and our own phones, which is enough to get you through the day as long as you don’t stuck staring at the gray walls for too long (why would anybody choose gray paint!).

I have accepted these conditions without complaint for 12 years, but I draw the line at a lack of air conditioning.  I got to work at 8am.  The humidity was already enough to start a little hair frizz and with a high temp expected at around 90 degrees, it was already in the 80’s at that time.  I walked in from my car, dodging goose poop the whole way (despite nary a goose in sight), climbed the stairs to the second floor, walked a short hallway and entered my office area to be hit by a wall of stuffy heat.  It was literally 10 degrees warmer at my desk than it was the hallway, and the temperature kept climbing as more people showed up and powered up computers. A work order was submitted and 3 hours later, I heard the hum of the a/c and the office cooled down. 

During this time, we are expected to continue working at normal productivity levels.  Seriously.  Now, it could have been worse, but when you are hot and uncomfortable and everyone else around you is talking about the heat, it’s difficult to do any critical thinking.

This experience was certainly not my first at this company where the temperature was not quite right.  I’ve experienced many hot rooms.  I’ve seen the use of portable a/c  units.  I’ve endured humidity that made you feel like you’re in the rain forest.  I even moved to a new building in the winter where it took them 2 weeks to figure out that the heat didn’t kick back on until 10am, consequently, leaving us all freezing for several hours every morning.  All that combined with leaky roofs, power outages and the occasional mouse problem makes me wonder how much my employer really values my comfort.

Right now, I’m eating my lunch in a nice cool office space getting ready to forget about all this negativity until the next a/c problem.  Now if only the guy hammering in the room below me would stop and take his lunch break… I could get some work done.

Cleaning Chemical Free

I have written in the past about my commitment to use non-toxic cleaners to clean my home.  I admit that I do have a few exceptions.  I still use bleach in my sinks and my toilets, diluted with water, to disinfect.  I also still use glass cleaner for windows and mirrors and dishwasher soap for my dishwasher.  Other than that, my cleaning supplies consist of water, vinegar, baking soda and elbow grease.  Now before you question the cleanliness of my house, I assure you that we live in a clean and sanitary environment.  We just don’t have to worry about inhaling dangerous fumes, absorbing nasty chemicals through our skin or our kids finding their way to toxic chemicals that could have fatal outcomes if ingested (don’t worry – I keep the bleach, etc locked up on a high shelf).

I was reassured with my decision when I read the Environmental Working Group’s list of worst household cleaners for your health.  They include the following – note that a Simple Green product is on the list:  

  • Mop & Glo Multi-Surface Floor Cleaner
  • Tarn-X Tarnish Remover
  • Simple Green Concentrated All-Purpose Cleaner
  • Target’s Up & Up and Walmart’s Great Value

Included in this list are cleaners to avoid.  That list is so long, you might be left wondering what you should be cleaning with.  Fortunately, they also have a list of the best green cleaners.  While these may still not be great for your health and aren’t as safe as water, vinegar and baking soda, they are good alternative for what you might be using now.

The Things We Do for Charity

Ok, so maybe we didn’t make a huge personal sacrifice yesterday, but it was still not something we were looking forward to.  Every year, my sisters, my husband and I walk in an MS Walk.  It’s always around mid-April when the weather is a little bit questionable.  We’ve been blessed with a beautiful day for the walk in the past. We’ve had cold years.  We’ve had windy years.  This year was our first cold, windy and rainy year. 

After weeks of drought, the rain returned with a vengeance on one day where we really needed it to stay away.  We all secretly hoped the others would say let’s just not walk this year, but no one stepped up and off we went.  Dressed in a windbreaker and poncho, I spent the first half of the walk holding my poncho hood up to keep the cold rain from hitting my face.   It was an easy decision to only do the short loop – 2.7 miles and get out of the rain as fast as we could.  After the walk, it took a good 45 minutes before my hands would work properly after being frozen stiff.

I’m either proud of myself for sucking it up and participating or embarrassed that I actually voluntarily walked in the cold rain for so long.  I haven’t decided.  At the end of the day, the National MS Society got our donations, and we have a good story to reminisce about during next year’s walk.  Hopefully, yesterday’s experience will be the worst we ever have.

Would you Buy a Hybrid Car?

I would – in the right circumstances.  With a family of 4 (soon to be 5), a Toyota Prius or a Honda Insight aren’t really options for us.  The SUVs that could accommodate our family are out of our price range.  For example, the Toyota Highlander Hybrid runs about $10,000 more than the non-hybrid.  The Chevy Tahoe hybrid is $13,000 more, and the GMC Yukon hybrid is $12,000 more than its non-hybrid counterpart.  More importantly, I couldn’t find one mini-van, which is what fits our needs the best, in a hybrid version. 

What is interesting is that recent review of hybrid registrations by Polk has shown that only 35% of hybrid owners are replacing their hybrid cars with new hybrids.  If you factor out Toyota Prius owners, who show the highest brand loyalty, that number drops to only 25%.        

You can make a lot of assumptions with this statistic.  The cost differential could take too long to make up.   Previous hybrid owners could be turning to electric or natural gas cars.  Maybe the recent improvements to fuel efficiency in vehicles are more appealing than paying the extra costs related to hybrid cars. 

Whatever the reasons, the number of hybrids being purchased is declining.  I find this disheartening.  I had assumed that as the popularity of hybrids increase, the costs would drop for these vehicles.  There would be more hybrid options, and they would become more main stream, thus reducing our dependency on gasoline as a nation.   It doesn’t look like this is what is happening.  Hopefully, automobile makers will continue to inject some ingenuity in car design to make even further advancements in fuel efficiency to help the average consumer like me.

* Photo from Toyota’s website

Making Stainless Steel Look Like New…Without Chemicals

In December, we purchased new stainless steel appliances.   They look beautiful, but the fingerprints that accumulate on them is ridiculous!  My son and daughter like to help close the doors, so there are always handprints starting around 2 feet from the bottom of the fridge.   I have tried everything to clean them and make them look like new with no success.

From previous posts, you may remember that for the past few years, I have been trying to use non-chemical cleaners.  To combat the handprints, I have tried my all-purpose cleaner, wet rags, straight vinegar and baking soda.  Nothing worked, except for the baking soda but what a mess!  I broke down and bought some pledge because the guy at the store told me that is what they use to clean the appliances on display.  That didn’t work.  I’ve even tried some Windex with no luck.

Yesterday I did what I should have done a long time ago.  I googled it.  I found this link and decided to give it a try.  All you need to do is wipe down the fridge with olive oil and then wipe it down with white vinegar.  Sounds easy, but I admit that I was skeptical. I was shocked to see that it worked perfectly.  My fridge looks brand new!  I went to bed and that fridge had zero handprints or fingerprints anywhere on it.  Of course, this morning all of that changed, but at least now I have an easy way to clean my appliances without using chemicals.

Decorating Easter Eggs with Toddlers

Tis the season…to decorate EasterEggs.  With an almost 3 year old and a 1 year old, I didn’t think that dying eggs was such a good idea.  I decided to use a favorite decoration of my son’s – stickers!  I took care of dying the eggs and once they were dried, the kids decorated them with the stickers.  It wasn’t the perfect activity.  Gavin lost interest after about 4 eggs, and Skylar ended up with playing with plastic eggs after dropping an egg on the floor and bashing another one against the table.  Despite all of that, the kids had fun, and I felt like a good mom for coming up with something creative to do. 🙂

Explaining Dreaming to a Toddler

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Two nights ago, Gavin woke up from a dream very upset. He dreamt that Curious George bit his toe. Not just Curious George from the tv show, but his little stuffed Curious George that he has cuddled with at nighttime since he was 9 months old. He kept crying “No, George!” and asked me to put him away. I tried to comfort him as best I could while attempting to explain that it was just a dream. In my sleepy confusion at 3:30am, I was making the problem worse because I didn’t remember that Gavin didn’t know what a dream was. I kept telling him that it wasn’t real, that George really didn’t bite his toe, but to Gavin it was as real as could be. Finally, I put poor George away and was able to calm Gavin back to sleep.

The next morning, I naively thought that he would forget everything that happened and all would go back to normal. I was wrong. George surfaced from underneath his covers where I had stashed him, and Gavin immediately got upset. He wouldn’t even stay in the same room with him. I again tried to explain that dreams were something that we imagined while we were sleeping, but they didn’t really happen. I hit another brick wall. A 2 ½ year old doesn’t know what imagine means! By that night, George was out and Mickey Mouse was in. George isn’t allowed anywhere near his room, and Gavin has a new toy to snuggle with at night.

 This morning, I tried again to explain dreams, but I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t find the words to use they he understood to express the idea of a dream. I tried to do some research on toddlers and dreams and didn’t find much except that it’s a normal part of development. WebMd actually says that conflicts that happen during the day can lead to nightmares. Ironically, Gavin bit another child at daycare that day and did not get dessert after dinner as a result.  A UC of Berkley study says that dreaming is a type of overnight therapy that help to soothe bad things that happened during the day.  I guess really wouldn’t that cookie after dinner.

Google didn’t tell me much except that dreams are normal and common at this age. I couldn’t find anything on when a child understands the difference between dreams and reality or any tips on explaining dreams to toddler. I guess dreaming is just to advanced of an idea for a 2-year-old to understand. Hopefully, Mickey Mouse will be a good replacement and Gavin will only have happy dreams about him; otherwise, a trip to Disney World will never happen. For now, George will have to find a new place to sleep at night.