Monthly Archives: September 2011

Thou shalt not pay retail

I’m officially obsessed with the most ridiculous show on TV (and I’ve seen a lot of them).

TLC’s ‘Extreme Couponing’ proves that people will stop at nothing to get a bargain, but at what point does this lifestyle become addictive?

How about when you’re 1,000 tubes of toothpaste in. Or when you have enough diapers for a year- and you don’t even have kids.

I could understand stockpiling specific items, like toilet paper and paper towels. Things you will always need and you don’t have to worry about expiring or going bad.

But when you’re buying 30 bottles of mustard just because you can, I think it’s safe to consider yourself an addict.

I will hand it to one extreme couponer; though his personal stockpile is out-of-control, he spent $27.04 for almost $900 worth of items to send to U.S. troops abroad.

But aside from this one exception, most couponers seem to be in it just to prove how much money they can save.

The amount of time and calculation required to be a dedicated couponer (one mother spends 20 hours/week to plan her 4 weekly shopping trips) almost leaves no time to have any other hobbies- and I use the term ‘hobby’ loosely for this obsession. It’s hard to imagine they don’t become all-consumed by it.

I will admit, though, I’m envious of the savings these couponers are able to earn. The most jaw-dropping amount I’ve seen to-date was one family of six’s single food shopping trip of $2,756.94.

They paid $187.69.

I’d be interested to learn how many of the items bought in bulk by these obsessive couponers actually see use. The way they stock up on perishable goods makes me wonder if most of their savings end up in the garbage.

Tune in for the season premiere tonight at 10pm and let me know what you think.

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Filed under bargains, Couponing, Money, obsessions, Savings, shopping

Non-sports fans should reconsider sporting events

I don’t like watching sports.

At least, not on TV anyway.

There is something about sitting down to spend an afternoon of my life watching people I don’t even know run around a field and get

After the Rays won, mascot Raymond (who looks like a walrus to me) ran out to fly the victory banner.

paid too much money to do it that makes me want to take a nap instead. For some sports (ahem, football), the game moves too slow, and I get bored, and I don’t even know what’s going on half the time (or all the time, see: football).

But despite my lack of motivation to learn the rules of most professional sports (except my one true love, soccer), I always find myself wanting to attend live games, but never doing so. There’s just something about being there, being apart of the energy, the madness, the passion, that makes anything else irrelevant (like, say, not knowing what’s going on, ever).

Today, I finally went to my first major league baseball game. I know, I know, you’re thinking how could someone go that long in life without ever going to a ball game? Well my parents weren’t into the sport when I was younger, so we never went to games, and up until this point I haven’t sought out an opportunity. So when one presented itself- or, just sort of fell into my lap- I jumped at it. And ended up surprising myself.

I ate my hot dog without a plate and drank my pepsi out of my souvenir cup and got annoyed at the people in my row every time they needed to get by. I clapped and smiled when my team scored and made

Although I couldn't get a photo with him, Spongebob made several appearances.

faces when they didn’t. I let go and just let myself enjoy the experience. Sure, I didn’t always know what was happening, and I sometimes got distracted and missed a good play, but overall it was a great time. I’m not saying I’m going to go home and start watching baseball on TV, but it’s definitely something I’d do again.

Even football, whose concept, in my opinion, is ridiculous (a bunch of sweaty, fat guys jumping on top of each other every five minutes? no thanks) would probably be a lot of fun to watch live. Sure, maybe the game is boring to you, or the guy next to you keeps sloshing beer on you, or your friend won’t speak to you because you keep asking too many questions. But when you’re there, you get caught up in the excitement of it all, so none of those other things end up mattering.

In my borrowed Rays shirt.

I know most people are sports fans. This isn’t news to them. But for those of you

like me, who usually turn your nose up at the thought of watching athletes play a game you could be playing yourself, I recommend you give it a chance.

You’d be surprised how wrong you were.

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Filed under baseball, Entertainment, family fun, Florida, sports, tampa

Trash pick-up: not just for inmates and mandated community service

Imagine if this was your backyard.

What you don’t realize is this is your backyard.

Littering doesn’t just affect you when it becomes a personal issue, like having your lawn strewn with various soda cans, water bottles, food wrappers and other miscellaneous junk. It affects you and everyone else from the minute someone tosses an old cigarette butt out the window to the second trash falls off the back of the garbage truck. It may not always be 100 percent intentional, but it is 100 percent fixable.

I felt like a rugged Santa Clause this afternoon, delivering trash to dumpsters around the world. With my sunglasses on, my iPod turned up loud and a decent pair of latex gloves already sticking to my skin and making my hands soggy, I set off down the road with one purpose in mind: to pick up trash.

When I was younger, I used to recruit my friends to walk around the neighborhood with me and do this very same thing. We weren’t as successful, and I’m sure my parents didn’t appreciate the increased bill from Waste Management, but in our own small way we were making a difference. And that’s all that mattered.

Lately I’ve become more and more enraged with the current state of our environment. The world has become one big garbage-filled playground, and no one seems to notice or care. Sure, there are organizations that include trash cleanup as one of their priorities, but it never seems to be enough.

People need to start being responsible on an individual level, as well. I’m in the process of starting a volunteer organization that will allow me to recruit friends and activists from the surrounding area, getting together maybe a few times a month in different locations to assist in environmental cleanup. But in the meantime, I decided today was a perfect day to get started on my own.  I picked a local area of road near my house, so I wouldn’t have to drive anywhere. I didn’t give myself a time limit; the limit would be when the bag was full. When the trash bag became almost too heavy to carry home, and the sweat from my forehead started dripping into my eyes (they weren’t kidding, that really does burn), I knew it was time to call it a day. I checked my watch: I’d been out for an hour.

But in one hour I collected enough garbage to fill an entire trash bag.

My finds included a grungy t-shirt, an old CD, various bottles and cans, and a soggy towel.

One hour. There are 24 hours in one day, 8,760 hours in one year (yes, I used a calculator). Can you imagine how much trash we could remove from our parks, from our neighborhoods, from our sidewalks and highways if every person in the world spent one hour a year collecting trash? That’s math I can’t even do.

But I do know that it would make a huge difference in local, national and international ways. But until we take initiative, nothing will change.

So get out there, do it on your own, or with a few friends. Or find an org in your area that you can participate in. It’s okay if you don’t know where to start, the point is to just start.

Help keep our roads clean by not littering. If you don’t like trash littering your car, buy something to throw it in. Plenty of stores sell trash bags for your car, most of them under $20. There are easy ways to do your part and make a difference, big or small.

The point is to open your eyes. Realize that your actions and the actions of others, and more importantly, the inaction, is causing our environment to become dirty, polluted, destroyed.

But we can change that. We just have to be willing.

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Filed under Uncategorized

Pornography: the newest way to promote animal rights

I may not be a vegetarian, but I am all for the ethical treatment of animals. But despite my passion for promoting and fighting for animal rights, I’m very skeptical about PETA’s upcoming launch of its pornography website, geared to promote its animal-rights and vegan-diet messages to a new crowd.

I was all for the sexy, somewhat raunchy advertising PETA has been known for in the past.

Sex(y) sells, but at what point does it become too much?

PETA spokeswoman Lindsay Rajt said “PETA officials [will] track the website to determine if people are viewing the animal-rights messages and not just the nudity. Past experience has shown that they will.”

I’m sorry, but are you on crack? Anyone searching for porn is definitely not trolling the internet for messages on animal rights. You are out of your mind if you think that putting the message PETA stands for all over a new x-rated site is going to lure these types of people in to going vegan and supporting animal rights.

Not only are you setting yourself up for failure among the porn-enthusiasts of the world, you are also seriously risking offending those who already support you or were considering it up to this point.

PETA is a very well-known organization, one that has already reached millions of people worldwide. Do they really need to sink this low to further promote their message? As much as I love PETA and everything they stand for, I just lost a huge amount of respect for them.

I’ll be interested to hear what happens when the site, tentatively titled peta.xxx, actually goes live in November.

I hope, for PETA’s sake, the site is a huge success and they are able to reach a new collection of supporters. Because, quite honestly, this decision has already cost them their reputation and a lot of respect from a lot of areas, and if they fail miserably, I’m not sure PETA will ever be the same.

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Filed under advertising, animal rights, animals, humanity, PETA, pornography, protests, sex

I closed a zoo

I’ve been seeing trailers lately for Matt Damon’s new movie, We Bought a Zoo, set to hit theaters this December. And it looks like it’s going to be good. 

And I’m going to see it when it comes out. But I couldn’t disagree with the premise more.

When I think of what zoos and aquariums represent, it’s hard not to feel enraged. They base their success and profits on the imprisonment and degradation of wild animals, living beings that should never be put in cages and kept locked up.

And it’s not that I’m ignorant of the arguments made against my opinions, because they are valid, and I could understand why most people would agree with them.

People in favor of the so-called positive work zoos do would argue that they provide endangered animals a safe habitat, keeping them from becoming extinct, and that they save animals that are injured and on the verge of dying. They would also argue that, without zoos, the general public wouldn’t have exposure to the wild and exotic animals that zoos are able to house.

But you can’t ignore the most integral part of this debate: these are wild animals, and wild animals belong in the wild.

They don’t belong in cages, and humans have no right to put them there. For one thing, if an animal is injured in the wild, it isn’t man’s responsibility or right to swoop in and save them. We need to stop playing God. If the animal is going to survive, they’re going to do it on their own. And if they die, they were meant to per the natural cycle of life. If you save their life by putting them in a cage, how is that truly saving them? In fact, it’s condemning them to a life of domesticity, something wild animals aren’t used to and can’t endure. Have you ever gone to a zoo and really looked at the animals on the other side of the thick glass? They are tired, disinterested, depressed. Just look into their eyes and you will see the pain, the suffering there.

And sure, maybe some animals are at risk of becoming extinct, and zoos provide a guaranteed habitat, but let’s ask ourselves this: would these animals be endangered if it weren’t for humans? If we stopped destroying the ecosystems they live in, if we stopped poaching them, if we stopped interfering with their way of life, they wouldn’t be in this situation, and we wouldn’t feel like we have to save them by providing them with an artificial habitat. Because, what are we saving them from but ourselves?

 

We should be the animals in cages.

I’ll check back in after the movie is released; maybe after seeing the positive outcome of this true story I’ll have a different opinion. But I wouldn’t count on it.

 

If I had the chance, I would buy a zoo, too.

Then I’d set all the animals free.

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Filed under animals, Entertainment, humanity, zoos