Thursday, February 25, 2010


During my first solo trip many years ago, a pair of gold earrings that had been a gift to me were stolen from the top of the TV where I set them while I went to my car to get something. The maid was working a few doors away when I left and my hotel room had been cleaned by the time I returned - I didn't think I was gone that long - and my earrings were never recovered. I guess the poor maid gets blamed for everything.

Travel tips I've read since then recommend taking only cheap jewelry such as a necklace of wooden beads in case of theft or forgetting and leaving it behind so the loss is minor.

The problem is that I don't like wooden beads nor the majority of the inexpensive jewelry I've seen. I did find a cheap pair of earrings while I was in Los Angeles in 2007, but the ear wires irritated me so I never wore them again.

Heading to Hobby Lobby to see what it has for making jewelry, I found two long aisles that were nearly overwhelming. There were glass beads, metal beads, letter beads, stone chips, crystals, pendants, findings in gold, silver, bronze and black; and various types of cords for making earrings, bracelets, and necklaces along with tools.

I selected a silver leaf, a filigree piece, and a tear drop of paua shell for pendants, rectangles of paua shell for earrings, an assortment of jump rings, 1 mm stretch cord, and pulled 25 leaflets of free instructions for more inspiration. I also got hypoallergenic ear wires.

The best part was that many of the items were 30-50% off. Score!

Another customer and I started discussing our projects. She agreed about traveling with only inexpensive jewelry because one of her necklaces had been stolen from her motel room.

"It doesn't matter if you hide it. If the thief wants it, it'll be stolen," she said.

I admired her necklace that reminded me of those worn by Emily Deschanel's character, Dr. Temperance Brennan, in "Bones." It was multicolored with turquoise, red, gray, and other colors that would go with just about any colored outfit.

"Thank you, this and the (matching) earrings were my first project. I got the stones from an Indian fair that's held in September. I hope the people will be back this fall because I'd like to get more."

After checking out the satin cords in the sewing department and getting three-quarters of a yard for US$0.59 for a necklace for one of my new pendants, I paid for my selections and went to Walmart where I bought a three-in-one jewelry tool that has round nose pliers for curving wires into loops, holding/crimping edges, and a wire cutter.

Sometimes, I think preparing for travel is almost as much fun as actually traveling.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Effect of an Educated Parent

Back in my college speech class, there was a young woman who told me she was in college to be a better mother. She surprised me because I had never before encountered someone who didn't aspire to a career although I was aware of those who attended college to become a Mrs.

My classmate explained that an educated woman is a better mother because she's been exposed to more subjects at deeper levels with a wider world view than offered by high schools. She figured that by having a college degree, she'll give her children a better foundation than other mothers who didn't go to college and those women who do go to college but who aren't full-time mothers.

The wonderful biopic, "Temple Grandin" on HBO, brought this home to me this past week. There's a brief scene in which a doctor dispenses the typical advice for autistic children of that time - to place Temple in an institution which time has proved would have robbed us of a valuable member of society had Eustacia, Temple's mother, acquiesced.

What the movie doesn't show is the fierce battle Eustacia had to keep Temple out of an institution as Temple's father insisted on following the doctor's recommendation, a battle that led to the break-up of their marriage.

Was it Eustacia's Ivy League college education that made her recognize that Temple could be taught to make her own way in the world or was it a mother's deep-seated instinct and belief in her child? I wish the movie had enough to give me a lead.

I thought about friends and acquaintances who attended and didn't attend college and have only one conclusion: whether a person is self-taught or formally educated, an education is never wasted.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Malts vs. Shakes

On the evening of Tuesday, Feb 2, I went to the nearest Sonic Drive-In to take advantage of their Tuesday night half-priced burger special and included a pineapple malt in my order. To ensure that I got a malt and not a shake, I said, "That's a pineapple malt, not a shake."

"They're the same thing," came from the voice in the box.

Surely, I didn't hear that correctly. "I want one pineapple malt. I do not want a shake," I said.

"Shakes and malts are the same thing," he said.

"Excuse me?"

The guy taking my order repeated, "Shakes and malts are the same thing."

It doesn't bother me if regular people don't know the difference between a malt and a shake, but it does when an employee of an establishment that has both on the menu doesn't know and he definitely gave me the wrong response three times in a row.

"Obviously, you don't know your beverages," I cut back at him. Was he not trained properly, did he forget his training, or was he an idiot who liked to annoy customers with inappropriate replies?

"A malt is a shake," he said.

Well, yes, but since a shake isn't a malt and with his repeatedly insisting that they're the same thing, I had no reason to believe that I'd be getting a malt.

"Just forget the whole thing," I said as I started my car and proceeded to the grocery store's deli section for the much better dinner of Tequila Lime chicken and hot veggies.

The next day, I called Sonic's toll-free number and reported the store that has an employee who doesn't know the difference between a shake and a malt.

(A malt is a shake with malt added, usually a powder consisting of barley that gives a richer flavor. Sometimes, the malt includes wheat or other grains.)

Justin was very nice and apologized, promising to have my complaint passed down to that particular store and thanking me for contacting Sonic. "Is there anything else I can help you with today?"

"Yes, I have a question about pricing. The previous time I ordered a pineapple malt, I was charged extra for the pineapple. It was at the same store and doesn't seem right because there isn't anything on the menu that says other flavors cost more. Why aren't vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate priced the same? They're flavors, too. When the car hop came out, he pointed to another section lower on the board that said additional flavors cost more, but I shouldn't have had to hunt around the board to see that. If the additional pricing isn't right there by the shakes and malts, there should be an asterisk to let me know there's a footnote with additional pricing information that applies to them."

He replied, "The first flavor is the price posted whether it's vanilla, chocolate, or pineapple. The second flavor has an additional price added. That means that a pineapple malt is the price on the board, but a pineapple and coconut malt is more.

"So, I was overcharged! I thought so! Please add that to my complaint."

Yesterday, I received a postcard from Sonic thanking me for contacting them with a coupon for a free sandwich.

It pays to complain!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Happy Blogiversary!

This post marks my second blogiversary. What a surprise it is to me that I've been able to produce an average of a post a week for two whole years especially considering that many weeks I have no idea what I'll be writing about next. It's also surprising that I've reached people in 55 countries in addition to the U.S.

Thank you very much to my regular readers for your faithfulness. Although I may not know you as individuals, it is comforting for me to know that people are reading the words I send out into cyberspace.

Thanks also to my visitors who stop by seeking specific information. It's reassuring that the time I spend on research, measuring, evaluating, and writing about various things might be useful to others.

Happy Blogiversary!