Wednesday, September 30, 2009

1,800 Job Openings in LA

American Apparel, in downtown Los Angeles, is firing about 1,800 immigrant employees -- more than a quarter of its workforce -- after a federal investigation turned up irregularities in the identity documents they had presented at hiring (i.e., Social Security and/or immigration documents) — probably because the documents were fake.

So will American Apparel be able to replace those workers?  Are American citizens interested in working for a company that "has been lauded by city officials and business leaders for paying well above the garment industry standard, offering health benefits and not long ago giving $18 million in stock to its workers"?  The company also has masseuses and massage chairs on the factory floor, dispensing 20-minute massages to sewing staff who needed them.

The pay is decent, there are benefits and bonuses, and occasional perks.  But one soon-to-be-terminated employee -- a top supervisor, said, “I think the Americans think that garment sewing is demeaning work.”

Geez, I don't!  If it weren't 3,000 miles away, I'd definitely take a job there over one at Wal-Mart, Old Navy or Starbucks. Wouldn't you?  If Americans (born here or born elsewhere but citizens now) need work, and a good company needs workers, will they apply for work in a garment factory?  What would that be like?

It might go like this:  American company offers decent, skilled labor jobs, with training, to Americans.  More Americans work, more Americans experience the satisfaction of making, more Americans respect the skills, craftsmanship and time that go into making, more Americans are willing to pay a little more for well-made goods (American, hopefully), and more American factories are created.  More American jobs.  And perhaps a new, respectful era begins for American industry.

Toyota/Lexus Recalls: Floor Mats & Accelerator Pedals

Important news for drivers of Toyota and Lexus vehicles:  Toyota is recalling 3.8 million vehicles because the driver's side floor mat could cause the accelerator pedal to become stuck, and lead to unexpected high speeds and dangerous crashes. The automaker and federal officials are urging owners to remove their driver’s side mat while Toyota works out a solution.

Specific models and model years are:  2007 to 2010 Camry; 2005 to 2010 Avalon; 2004 to 2009 Prius; 2005 to 2010 Tacoma; 2007 to 2010 Tundra; 2007 to 2010 ES 350; and 2006 to 2010 IS 250 and 2006 to 2010 IS 350.

For detailed information from the manufacturer:

Toyota press release
Lexus press release

And please pass this information on to anyone else you know who might own or drive these vehicles!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Poland Spring's Triple Evil Water

I'm back to packing daily lunches and snacks for my son, and bought two 12-packs of little 8-ounce Poland Spring bottles. I know that bottled water is hideously expensive, marketed with dubious pretenses, and bad bad bad for the environment, but I rationalized that I'd re-use each bottle a couple of times, and mitigate each aspect somewhat.

Silly, silly me. Turns out that THESE TOPS DON'T UNSCREW. I tried every day the first week, figuring this is some child-safety design and I just need to focus and apply a little squeeze to some secret spot. Nope -- they are one-time-use only! In the fine, fine print, they tell you that the cap is non-removable by design, to protect children from choking hazards. But wouldn't flip-tops protect just as well?

So I figured I'd just use suction and pressure through the twist-open nozzle, and then empty and re-fill the bottles. Wrong-o, yet again. They are made of thin-walled plastic that does not snap back into shape. Once crushed, crushed forever. "Better for the environment," they say, where it "takes up less space in landfills" -- where they will stay, FOREVER, and never degrade.

Plus, the water is flouridated, which is not necessarily beneficial for people who already have flouridated water, as our town does.

Frankly, I suspect that Nestle (owner of the Poland Spring brand) didn't like losing sales to themselves when people would re-fill and re-use their bottles. I do know that chemicals from the plastics can leach into the drinking water, but I would doubt that that is a significant risk for bottles that are re-used a few times (often over the course of a single afternoon).

It really, really bothers me that they are touting this bottle as a way to keep our children "safe" with 1.) the permanent cap, 2.) perma-crush bottle, and 3.) superfluous flouride, when ultimately, it will contribute to the waste and pollution that will diminish quality of life around the planet. Hypocritical, and in my opinion, evil.

And now I'm stuck with 20 of the little stinkers.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Risk Worth Taking?

In today's New York Times, there was an article discussing the dilemma many parents face as the school year begins: to escort your kids to school or not. In an unattended moment, a child could fall, or be careless when crossing the street, but what everybody's really fearing is that some d-mned child predator will whisk him or her away without a trace. While I do want to foster independence and autonomy in my son, I know I would literally die if he were to disappear. I think I have at least 3 or 4 years to brook the issue, and in the meantime, I feel like squirming away from the issue because he's too young to walk by himself now anyway.

I do want to take issue with one point in the article, though: "Critics say fears that children will be abducted by strangers are at a level unjustified by reality. About 115 children are kidnapped by strangers each year, according to federal statistics; 250,000 are injured in auto accidents." The author has quotes from media and crime experts who say TV shows and news media sensationalize child abductions, and implies by that factoid, I think, that parents should worry more about auto accidents and stop hovering at the bus stop.

While I am, obviously, passionate about passenger safety, I don't like the implication that kidnapping is a trivial issue. Yes, there are more auto accidents than stranger abductions, but a child can be injured in an auto accident and survive. Their parents can see and touch their child and have an idea of what will happen, for better or worse. And there are also some children who, tragically, do not survive. Still, their parents know what happened to them.

But to have your child just disappear without a trace is beyond terrifying, beyond heartbreak. To have no closure, no resolution, to not know if your child is in pain, is in danger, is dead. Like Jaycee Dugard's mom, or Etan Patz's mom. I just don't know how I could bear it.

Even if it's "just" 115 children a year, I just can't risk my child being one of them.

... so yeah, I'm gonna walk with him for a good long freakin' time.

Friday, September 4, 2009

The first cold morning in your town will be...?

If you live in Piqua OH, your first chilly morning will arrive October 1st.

To pinpoint the first cold morning in your town, visit and click on Forecast, Typical Weather. Enter your city and state, click GO to see average monthly highs and lows, then click on each month to see average daily temperatures.

I usually start reaching for my son's and my jackets at around the 50-degree mark. Even if the day's supposed to top out in the high 60's, the mornings are usually quite chilly and we can see our breath as we head out to the car. Fall is my favorite season and I love to be ready with a cozy fleece or poncho on the coat rack!