A Bit About Me

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Along with my daily duties as founder and head writer of HumorMeOnline.com, in 2003, I took the Grand Prize in the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (also known as the "It Was a Dark and Stormy Night" competition). I've also been a contributor to "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" and the web's "The Late Show with David Letterman". I also occupy my time writing three blogs, "Blogged Down at the Moment", "Brit Word of the Day" and "Production Numbers"...and my off-time is spent contemplating in an "on again/off again" fashion...my feable attempts at writing any one of a dozen books. I would love to write professionally one day...and by that I mean "actually get a paycheck".

30 March 2007

Of Ripples From Butterfly Wings

Daily things that are within our ability to do...yet we don't do them...and wonder what would have happened had we gone out of the way, if but for a minute, to take the time to do them...

Things whiz by my car window as I drive my daughter to school, they whiz by when I go to Fresh Market to buy food, things whiz by everyone on their daily day-to-day doings. We must look as bewildering and complicated from above as an ant colony looks to us from our perspective as well. We all have our destinations...we are determined to get there, our aim is predetermined...we shouldn't waver from it...we must be good scout, soldier, and worker ants...don't deviate from our mission. "Git 'er done!"

But at what cost? Is there a cost...is there just a tiny little butterfly effect that we might cause if we alter our daily doings...just how far would those ripples be felt...and most of all, would it be worth it in the end?

I was driving my daughter to school this morning, down Congressman Dickinson Drive...and right before I passed the Montgomery Humane Shelter on the right side of the road, there was a dog sitting on the side of the road...a big dog...a brown mastiff-looking lug of a dog...the canine equivalent of those not-so-bright mugs that protect the corrupt bosses in those old 30s/40s black/white films. But he wasn't a mean-looking type...he's one of those lovable mugs - just out of his element. I could tell he was lost...but I had to get my daughter to her school...she couldn't be late and I can't look up the shelter's number and drive at the same time. I COULD...but I refuse to drive that way...everyone should refuse such things.

I made it to her school - just in time and exited out of the parking lot - I take a different route back, so I don't know what became of that dog. Had I made a call and let them know about the dog...had I flapped my wings a little...they would have flapped theirs...and a whole other outcome would have come about. But I don't know the outcome...not that I would have known the alternate outcome. It's unlikely I would have called back to check on his status at the shelter..."don't ask...you might not want them to tell". But...I won't ask here as well...I might not want to hear it either. My choice to remain out of it...to step off that mental platform that calls each of us to do more than we do...called to me stronger than the one which would have gotten me involved.

The dog is now a blur as I go past, continuing on to my journey...my journey which is set, in mental concrete...that shouldn't have cracks in it. There must be no cracks...continue looking...but don't touch...don't make waves with those wings. I turn left onto Coliseum Blvd...there's a man, looking sad, a white plastic grocery store bag in his hand...bending down picking up trash from his yard. You can tell this is a daily stop on his personal journey...his that is also probably set. No verbal exchanges I'm sure from any passersby...do any of the littering culprits ever drive by to catch him picking up THEIR stuff they threw in his yard because they didn't want to clutter up their own cars? Do they drive by and snicker? Do they repeatedly throw the stuff in his yard all the time? Perhaps they work at the same store his grocery bag, now used as a trash bag, is from. I thought of that all in that millisecond time-frame that seemed to freeze-frame and then speed up again, like it does in films. As with the dog...my first and final contact with him. I'm almost to my destination - I'll not be late after all...keep it all in the parameters of my initial plan...don't get sidetracked.

I drop my daughter off...a few kids are being let out of their parents cars and running toward the school...you aren't supposed to do that - they are supposed to be accompanied by a parent when they are in the parking lot...they aren't being good ants...they aren't helping their colony. The small children are oblivious to the fact that the majority of the cars dashing in and out of the parking lot can't see them over the top of their hoods...let alone a rear-view image...but they still scurry. The cars, seemingly having their own agendas, must get to the next destination...a series of stops...move along...next station...move along again...and nothing is supposed to slow them down. But there are tiny little delicate cogs that can throw that system totally out of whack...these children, who probably have heard that old proverb..."children should be seen and not heard"...don't realize they are neither seen nor heard in a parking lot among the massive metal giants. Giants that can squoosh a child like a bug. So, I've decided today...I will be their champion...I will come to their aid...I will notify the school about these goings on before I hear what we all don't want to hear. I will pick up my phone, I will get online and write an email, I will dare to be that ripple that happens when I start to flap my wings...I will alight on my mental platform...I will take the time and I WILL be heard. It's only just a whisper I know...but a whisper can stop an accident, save a dog, or the person's life who might end up swerving to avoid hitting it. Whispers have started and stopped wars...whispers are much stronger than you can imagine.

Just think if we all spoke up from a whisper once in a while and beat our little wings until they made ripples...and if you ever saw ripples in water when you toss in even the tiniest pebble, you know they just keep going out further and further. I believe even a seemingly inconsequential phone call, intervention, deviation from our set norm...can set things in motion we've never dreamt of...and perhaps a deed we do will soar...even without anyone even knowing it.

25 March 2007

"Remove Those Cases...Just In Case?"

Well, it only took them two days (received at 3:46 p.m. today)...but here it is (I just copied it over so it's in their words, not mine)...

Recall -- Firm Press Release

FDA posts press releases and other notices of recalls and market withdrawals from the firms involved as a service to consumers, the media, and other interested parties. FDA does not endorse either the product or the company. This listserv covers mainly Class I (life-threatening) recalls. A complete listing of recalls can be found in the FDA Enforcement Report at:
http://www.fda.gov/opacom/Enforce.html Menu Foods Initiates Market Withdrawal of All Varieties of Recalled Wet Pet Food to Ensure Consumer Protection

Contact:Menu Foods 1-866-895-2708

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE -- TORONTO, ONTARIO -- March 24, 2007 -- As a result of reports from the FDA and various media outlets that some recalled lots of "cuts and gravy" style wet pet food remain on store shelves, Menu Foods has asked all retail outlets to immediately remove all impacted varieties of wet pet food posted at
www.menufoods.com, regardless of the date code.Menu Foods remains concerned that consumers are able to purchase recalled items.There is no known risk from items not listed on the recall list but an abundance of caution is called for in this situation. FDA has been apprised of this action.####

Additional Information on this Pet Food Recall

FDA's Recalls, Market Withdrawals and Safety Alerts Page: http://www.fda.gov/opacom/7alerts.html


24 March 2007

Inexcusable Omissions

If you remember the last blog I wrote - it dealt with my having Hill's Science Diet cat food - but luckily none with the expiration dates mentioned on the recall list...and I also mentioned that I was going to err on the safe side and not feed them any of the "cuts and gravy" type canned food for a few days "just in case". Well, I have since given them a few cans of it figuring no other recall was made and they definitely would have said something by mid-week at the latest.

Imagine my surprise...or should I say shock when I read this article tonight...which clearly states that aminopterin, used as a rat poison in some countries, was found in the product produced at the two plants and that they expanded the recall to include ALL 95 brands of the "cuts and gravy"...regardless of when they were produced. They announced this Friday, March 23...I am sure much earlier than I read about it around midnight. I even fed my cats two cans of the "cuts and gravy" stuff earlier tonight...so thanks for not initiating a new alert nor posting anything on the recall list about it. Hill's...I want to thank you as well as your website has remained virtually unchanged (except for the newer date, I don't see anything remotely different) from the first time I viewed it...on the 17th. If this new "rat poison" expanded recall does not pertain to any of your product...you should address this on your site and not make us worry unnecessarily...like I'm doing right now. I also haven't received any FDA automatic email recall notifications about this yet either...so, lastly I'd like to thank the government. Because of this my cats have ingested food which may have been contaminated with poison (they said in the article that "ANY amount in pet food is too much") - this is an outrage.

Now either the above news article has erroneous information in it or it doesn't...I'd like to know for sure. One thing's for sure...the recall list we all were relying on to be "up-to-date" didn't even have Hill's Science Diet included on it until recently. I was sent an automatic FDA email notification on the 19th initiated by Hill's...this information was not posted on the recall list until at least two days later (I was double and triple-checking like a maniac...trust me I would have seen it)...and I know they had to have been alerted...I was alerted...I'm sure they were. Unfortunately, this begs the question "Are there other cat/dog food brands that are left off this list...or the individual brand sites...we just don't know about yet and just how much longer do we have to constantly click on these sites to see if anything new's been added"?
No pun intended...but we all certainly have to be our own consumer watchdogs, don't we?

17 March 2007

Hill's/Purina Recalls

Just thought I'd pass along a couple new cat/dog food recalls I received today which have not yet made it to the overall list. This morning I was glad to know that Hill's "Science Diet" wasn't involved until just now reading they, in fact, were...but none of the product codes match...but just to err on the safe side I'll not feed my cats any of the "cuts" variety until next week, in case they broaden the list later.

Also, this new recall affects Purina's "Mighty Dog" wet/foil dog food as well...so you might want to take note. I am sure they will be added to the overall list, but I just wanted to pass it on as soon as I could.



16 March 2007

Total Recalls

By now you've probably all read or heard about the recall of certain canned/foil pouch dog and cat food which can cause kidney failure in your pets. The whole list of companies/products involved isn't going to be released until 6:00 a.m. Saturday morning, but Eukanuba and Iams have already listed which of their products are included in the recall. If you haven't read about it yet, it can be found here: cat/dog food recalled list - the itemized list is not up there yet...but will be...in the meantime there is this: Eukanuba/Iams list .

Now, you don't have to wait until you hear these things from a friend or on the news, you can subscribe to the recalls and have them sent to you, via email, automatically. Don't worry, they aren't going to clog up your inbox...they don't send out that many...and when you think about it...if it can save your life or the life of someone you know, isn't it worth it? I've been doing this now for about five or so years...you would be amazed at the things that you never ever hear about that are recalled...and some actually are life-threatening...or can make you very sick...especially if you have a food allergy. You can go here...
FDA Recalls to subscribe and/or to view a whole list of archived recalled items or here... Government Recalls if you want to get on a product recall email list as well as the food/medicine items...you know, when they recall child seats, power tools, clothing (yes, they do recall them sometimes), and other products. It's individually broken out so you can choose which you want to subscribe to.

Perhaps this will save a few lives...or a few visits to the emergency room...and you have the added benefit of automatic notification and being able to peruse the lists at your convenience.

06 March 2007

Consider if you will...

Here are some things that I've pondered the last few days...aka "filler as I haven't done a few blogs I've wanted to do, but this stuff was in my head already and I wanted to say it before it popped back out"...

Bullet statements: You'd figure by now they'd rename them something far less controversial, especially since students sometimes use them when they do their reports..."Sorry ma'am, couldn't do my term paper...that zero tolerance rule you know."

Flashlights vs batteries for said flashlights: I have a few flashlights...okay, I'll be honest, I have a whole slew of flashlights and wouldn't you know it, they all are dead or pretty much well on their way. So, I remembered to buy some batteries for them yesterday...C, D and those huge 6-volt-sized ones. As I was paying for them the cashier remarked to me that it would be cheaper to just buy new flashlights that come with the battery already. It's true. I bought a few on sale (batteries included) about two years ago, and they were indeed cheaper than just the batteries alone...and their cheap batteries last much longer than the primo ones. Next time I'm just buying new flashlights.

Why don't those "Good Housekeeping" and "Reader's Digest" magazines ever print any articles where the person doesn't come close to dying or some other equally life-altering dire situation? A nice "feel good" story for a change, like "I am Bob's Liver and Nothing's Wrong With Me At All Even Tho Between You and Me, the Man Drinks Like a Fish!"...something to make you go "Well, there ya go Martha...Bob drinks like a fish and his innards are fine...now go on and make me that 7th Scotch and Soda!". I was in the doctor's office the other day and read an entire "Good Housekeeping" magazine (yes, I waited that long)...one article was about a teenager who had been at football practice, hurt his knee, then two days later his parents were told by the doctors "if you have anything you want to tell him...you best do it now" because he had gotten a clot in his leg, pieces were breaking off and lodging in his lungs and he was getting septic as well. Altho he pulled thru, it just seemed so overly terrifying. Every time my kids have a bruise from this point on, I will be going into hyper-panic mode. Another article was about how this woman nearly died on board some cruise ship (or should I say "off" board) because after she slipped and hurt her arm...the cruise line told her to seek treatment when they docked. The foreign doctors in some "much less than sanitary" medical facility where they were wanted her to sign some paperwork to allow them to amputate some limbs...she and her husband refused and this "hospital" wouldn't let them "check out" until they paid a $1900 (or some figure) bill. Another cruise line's shipboard doctor gave injection after injection of blood thinner to some man he figured was having a heart attack. The passenger and his wife kept saying he had problems "exactly like this" with indigestion before...but no...the doctor refused to buy into their "expertise", relied on his own...even deciding to defibrillate him as well, thereby damaging this poor man's perfectly normal heart. Turned out one of the EKG leads was disconnected and the doctor thought he flatlined because he passed out from all the blood thinner medicine. Then they had the audacity to tell this couple to disembark the ship permanently as his "newly acquired medical condition" was jeopardizing the enjoyment of the other passengers. So...now I guess I'll never take a cruise either. Not that I was planning to...you see, you need money to do that kinda thing...which brings me to my last observation...

I've been trying, unsuccessfully mind you, to find a job here in Montgomery...for oh, about a year now. I have a brain, I have SOME skills...at least I'd like to think so...but the facts are that I've been a stay-at-home Mom for nearly 20 years and I don't have a college degree...no one will even call me in to do an interview...bottom line is they assume I can't function...or perhaps I don't need to function as I've been "not functioning" for the past 20 years and doing just fine in their eyes. I look at the want ads all the time and the majority of people it seems don't make a whole heck of a lot of money in this town...I know I'd probably jump for joy if I made a "whopping" $7.50+ an hour. But the thing that amazes me is how many people are driving really nice cars...new cars...or relatively new cars...and they all can't be making $30+ an hour. Everyone I talk to doesn't even come close to that, so how can they all afford these car payments, cellphones (oh, you know each one driving is talking on one), houses or apartments, clothes, utilities AND food...and that's not even taking gas and car insurance into consideration. And I know for a fact not everyone is married pulling in double income dollars. I'd really like to know their secret...please, if you know it, let me know...until then I'll be writing my highly anticipated "feel good" article for Reader's Digest, "How Mariann Found a Job By Complaining About Not Having One In Her Blog".

05 March 2007

Killer Tornadoes

Firstly, I would like to send my condolences and prayers out to all those affected by the tornadoes the other day...especially those whose families and friends lost a loved one. It is always so terrible to hear such sad, sad news...and my heart goes out to all of you.

Well, a few much less terrible things have happened as well since last I've done a blog - I will try to get some jotted down into a readable format here in a little bit.