Rep of Large Company Boasts About Animal Cruelty

The last few years have proven to be an age of outing. In recent news, several people in big companies and government agencies are being outed for doing or saying stupid, immoral, or illegal things. No one is perfect, and we all do and say stupid things – but there comes a time when watching what you say may cost you your job, reputation, or company’s reputation.

While I was having lunch in a restaurant the other day, there were two young women next to me that were difficult to ignore. Not only were we sitting close in proximity, one especially wasn’t the quietest chip in the bag. At first glance of the giant yellow company purse bag next to the woman sitting closest to me, I chalked it up to her having a lot of baggage. But then she announced what she does for a living. She represents a very large candy company with two initials – the one that sponsors a racecar driver – the one displayed on her baggage. I will refer to her as Miss Yellow Baggage.

I overheard the women’s personal issues and gossip about some people they knew, workplace drama about people being fired, the slight looks and whispers and giggles in my direction. I had to double check where I was because for a moment it seemed as if I were back in eighth grade.

While I didn’t get a very good look at Miss Yellow Baggage because she was primarily turned towards her friend and wearing a baseball cap, she was extremely loud – the type with a raspy smoker’s voice that certainly does not make for a nice, quiet meal. Miss YB boasted something so shocking and downright cruel that I will never forget: “I hate cats. If a cat is on the other side of the road, I will drive on the other side to hit it.”

I almost choked on my food, and it was obvious that she’d been heard, because Miss YB’s friend had been turned my way, noticed my expression, and whispered something about me hearing her. But Miss YB didn’t care. She just shrugged it off, snorted and laughed.

How could anyone think of doing such a thing to a harmless animal, much less boast about it in a public restaurant? I thought of my own baby kitties and how I had to bury one of them last year when he was hit by a car (perhaps Miss Yellow Baggage was in the neighborhood?). At that point I was ready to leave. My stomach was upset and I didn’t even enjoy the rest of my meal. All I wanted to do was get out of there and away from this big yellow baggage monster, and so I did.

I knew that if she were telling the truth about purposely running over cats, that she is or has broken the law, possibly even committed a felony. I looked up the statutes and I was right:

Florida Statute:
828.12. Cruelty to animals
(1) A person who unnecessarily overloads, overdrives, torments, deprives of necessary sustenance or shelter, or unnecessarily mutilates, or kills any animal, or causes the same to be done, or carries in or upon any vehicle, or otherwise, any animal in a cruel or inhumane manner, is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or by a fine of not more than $5,000, or both.

(2) A person who intentionally commits an act to any animal which results in the cruel death, or excessive or repeated infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering, or causes the same to be done, is guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or by a fine of not more than $10,000, or both.

My entire drive home I thought about how awful that experience was. I wonder what her two-letter company would think about that? So I decided I would out her on my blog.

See, what Miss Yellow Baggage did not realize is that she was not sitting next to some ordinary person eating her lunch. She was sitting next to a cat loving, animal shelter volunteer who also just so happens to be a writer – and one that isn’t afraid to out her.

Think Twice Before Purchasing a Memory Foam Mattress

Just under four years ago my husband and I decided to make an investment on a good mattress. Both of us had back and neck problems from sleeping on cheap mattresses, plus we wanted to upgrade to something bigger. We researched memory foam mattresses – which were getting high reviews at the time about how comfortable they were – and decided that’s what we needed. Shopping for one wasn’t difficult; a store only about two miles from us sold Sealy Posturepedic TruForm mattresses for a little lower than the other name brands. After purchasing the special box springs and frame, we had invested nearly $2000 on a king-sized bed that we had planned to last us at least twenty years. We considered this to be about right if we replaced a new $500 mattress every five years.

At first the mattress took some getting used to because my husband tends to get hot easily. (There is no air flow with memory foam mattresses.) The first year we had the mattress we both slept well. I had no complaints about not sleeping or having back problems like I do now. The second year, I started frequenting the chiropractor, yet I didn’t think it had anything to do with the bed. By the end of the second year, I was at the chiropractor’s office almost weekly.

My husband and I flipped the mattress, switched sides, and did everything we possibly could to get comfortable. Still not thinking the bed had anything to do with it, I slept crosswise in the opposite direction one night when my husband was at work. I noticed a lump in the center – in the exact spot where we did not sleep. I could not see it with my own eyes, but I could feel it when I was lying down. It was very obvious.

So I started doing a little research on memory foam mattresses. Lo and behold, there it was – tons and tons of reviews about memory foam mattress with the exact same complaints. The mattress we owned had numerous complaints as well. They all said the same thing: after two years, the mattress is no good, the mattress sags, the mattress has no support. After two years, no one really has a good night’s sleep, and some even said they’d rather sleep on the floor.

Since the warranty only covers “visual sagging” the manufacturer’s 20-year warranty is no good. Although memory foam loses its density over time, it visually pops back into place. What a ripoff! We did more research and found out that the larger manufacturers are using cheap materials and selling at high cost – typical of big companies.

Because I could not get comfortable, I hadn’t been able to sleep well without pain. My health insurance does not cover chiropractic care. I estimated that we have spent more in chiropractic care over the last couple of years than we did on the bed itself.

Due to my experience with this mattress and name brand and warranty ordeal, I would never purchase from Sealy ever again. Sealy Posturepedic TruForm Memory Foam Mattress – I rate this a big fat ZERO.

Alternative Foods for Corn and Egg Allergies

Having food allergies can put a real cramp in making dinner plans with friends because most people don’t understand the seriousness of food allergies. Sometimes planning an outing is difficult, so I must be sure to bring some of my own bread, ketchup, or Vegenaise. It took some getting used to at first, but now I am used to it. It’s the other people around me that have the problems. 🙂

I often get asked what I do when going shopping or out to places that serve food that I can’t eat. It’s taken some time, but luckily, there are some great products out there I have found.

Ketchup – Most ketchups contain corn syrup. I found an organic store brand (Publix) that does not. There are many others becoming available, mostly in the organic food sections.

Mayonnaise – Since mayo is made with eggs, there is no way around it. Most mayo also contains corn syrup. I found Grapeseed Oil Vegenaise – it’s lighter but pretty much the same consistency of regular mayo, and it’s made with grapeseed oil. It’s not as flavorful as regular mayo, but it does the job.

Bread – Most store bought breads contain corn syrup or another form of corn, so I try to stay away from them. However, fresh bread does not last long without preservatives, and I don’t eat it every day. Pepperidge Farm Whole Wheat Deli Flats are excellent, as is Toufayan Whole Wheat Pita Bread.

Sports Drinks – I used to love Gatorade before I found out about the corn allergy, but I had to give that up, too. Living in Florida, it’s important to keep hydrated, and sports drinks are a great way to do so. So far, Powerade Zero is the only sports drink I can find that does not contain corn ingredients.

Chips – Obviously, corn chips are out of the question, and many regular potato chips contain corn oil. Two great brands are Stacy’s Pita Chips and Kangaroo Pita Chips. I also enjoy the salted Genisoy Soy Chips.

Cheese – I also have a milk allergy, so ordering pizza is a crisis. I have found, however, that some of the more expensive deli cheeses (not the name brand packaged kinds) are okay. Someone also suggested that I try raw cheese or organic cheese, which I did both, and was able to enjoy them in small amounts.

Tacos – Since tacos are generally served on tortillas and other corn-related foods, I either substitute a taco shell by wrapping up the ingredients in a large piece of lettuce or take a whole wheat tortilla and lightly singe it in oil for about 30 seconds (enough to slightly harden it) and use that as the shell. It’s healthier both ways and still tastes just as good.

Pre-packaged foods – I’m generally out of luck with anything pre-packaged, even when it comes to canned soups. However, one of my favorite canned soups is Amy’s Lentil. Many of the Amy’s brand foods are safe, as long as I read the ingredients.

If your grocery store doesn’t carry these products, ask them to. All you have to do is go to the customer service desk and put in a request. Most of the time they listen.

De-Basing Your Own Self Worth

We often base our own self worth by how the people we love treat us. While I was rummaging through some old journals, I flipped through one of them from a few years ago. In it, I’d been writing some answers to questions from a self-help book. Some of the questions related to describing our relationships to our fathers. I thought I’d share a tidbit of what I wrote at the time:

My father is someone I haven’t spoken to in three years. I am told that he thinks I’m a lesbian. I don’t know what made him think that, but I’m pretty sure some socially incapacitated person in the family started that rumor. He also thinks that I’m going to hell for not believing in his religion, even though he’s never asked me what my beliefs are.

I believe that through my father’s eyes, I am just like my mother (whatever that means), but I believe what my father sees is completely different from the real me, and I believe he bases his beliefs on what others tell him. I wish he’d accept me for who I am and not treat me like an outsider or a bad person – because what I am is spiritual, hardworking, loving and accepting of people that he perceives as different.

He’s always been emotionally distant and has always downgraded my thoughts and feelings. For example, when I had a particular goal in mind for college or a career, he disagreed and insulted my decisions. It didn’t matter what I’d accomplished or how good my intentions were. How could he be so opinionated about what I do with my life? It’s not like he helped me through college, or even came to my graduation for that matter. He never even sent me a card when I got married. 

My father doesn’t even know me – how could he? He hasn’t spent one moment alone with me in over 25 years. Not even a lunch together. Maybe I should have been born a boy named Jesus, as long as it’s not pronounced “hey soos”.

How did the way my father treat me affect my life? Quite profoundly, actually. Before I met my wonderful husband, I had dated my share of emotionally unavailable men. For many years, I couldn’t figure out why. I kept thinking something was wrong with me. It wasn’t me that was flawed – it was my choices. After years of counseling, self-help books, and acknowledging that I am worthy, I finally learned that I do not have to base my self worth on what anyone thinks of me – including my own father or anyone else in my family. I had to change my pattern of thinking and some of the patterns of my actions so that I did not keep repeating the same redundant relationships over and over.

I see so many other women that are just like me, except that they are still stuck in the rut of not recognizing the destructive patterns that debase our self worth. It’s a vicious cycle that must be broken if you’re ever going to find the happiness we all want. It is not impossible to break these patterns, but it does require some work – and it will not happen overnight or in a month. Sometimes it takes several months or even years. It’s all about what you want with your life. Isn’t your happiness worth it?

I am Lost/Baffled/Bewildered Without My Thesaurus

I consider my thesaurus one of the most valuable books I own, and it’s gone missing. I don’t know if it became mixed up in a pile of books meant for donation or if it has been misplaced and is somewhere else among my scattered library.

The best thesaurus I ever owned was purchased sometime in the early 1990s, and I took that thing everywhere. I believe it was Roget’s, but it could have been Webster’s. It had a brown cover and smelled of tanning lotion because I’d kept it in my backpack whenever I went to the beach to write. The was pretty worn out after about five years, but my brother needed one for his high school classes so I gladly passed it on to him.

In the meantime, grandfather had given me his thesaurus – a gigantic, hardback, 15-pound Webster that I could in no way carry around so easily. I still needed a thesaurus that was convenient for my little writing outings and finally, a few years ago I found one. It wasn’t the greatest but it worked better than the internet searches for synonyms and antonyms.

And now it’s gone. I suppose this is a sign to find myself the right thesaurus once again.

So I went onto Amazon this morning and typed in “thesaurus”. Up comes zillions of pages of thesauruses that I never even knew existed. The history of the thesaurus, the green thesaurus, the thesaurus of psychology, the thesaurus for college students, the thesaurus for thinkers, and God is Not in the Thesaurus (the actual title of a book).

Why can’t things be simple anymore? What do I do now? A girl needs her thesaurus if she’s going to continue being a writer. Any suggestions?

Excerpt from UNHEARD: a memoir includes missing teen Colleen Orsborn

Colleen Orsborn

Last night I heard something on the news that caught my attention.  After 27 years, there is finally a DNA match to a body that was found shortly after the disappearance of Colleen Orsborn. Colleen was 15 years old the last time she was seen, and although I hadn’t mentioned her name in my memoir, it is she that I was referring to in this excerpt:

I have to walk through a very dark, seedy part of town to get to school. It’s scary sometimes, especially being a small girl – and more so after Mike Riley ended up in the hospital when he got jumped for his wallet on his way home from school.

I am walking to school by myself this morning. It’s humid out, even though it’s only about seven o’clock, and I am already sweaty. The sun is still coming up. I try to walk with others, but there usually isn’t anyone else around. An older dark skinned man in a pickup truck pulls up beside me. I don’t look at him and keep walking, clutching my books tightly against my chest.

“Would you like a ride?” he asks.

“No thanks,” I answer.

“Come on,” he insists. “I’ll give you a ride. Get on in.”

“No,” I persist, but he won’t leave.

I think my heart is going to pound out of my chest. All I can think to do is run, and run fast, before I get kidnapped and disappear like the girl from my school did last year.

The man continues driving beside me. I run faster. All I want to do is get on campus where other people can see me. It is three blocks away, and I am already out of breath. The man finally gives up and drives away.

I am hysterical by the time I arrive at school. I look for my friends. One of them tells our principal, Mr. McCrary. I give him a description of the man and his truck, and he calls the company that the truck belongs to. No one knows who is in the truck, because the company no longer owns it. I am afraid to walk to and from school anymore, but I have no choice, because Mom doesn’t have a car.

“Just run if someone comes up to you again,” she says.

Luckily, a boy named Mike Nelson promises to walk with me most of the way home, at least until we are out of the dark part of town.

Finally, because of all of the violence and missing girls in the area, the school arranges for a bus stop.

-excerpt from UNHEARD: a memoir
©2010 Susanna Hartigan

Keep Your Hate Filled Thoughts to Yourself and Being Anonym-ass

I have to do a little venting, so here it goes.

I love a good joke, and I can handle the ones that are humorously ‘wrong’ in some form or another (i.e. Family Guy), but one thing I don’t care to hear is a person’s hatred towards others. The next time you feel the need to gossip about someone, consider whom you’re telling. Things will get back to others, and unless you’re stating facts about something, your malicious chatter makes you look like a complete obsessed lunatic.

I completely appreciate a good spiritual message or thought of the day. But please refrain from ringing my doorbell and telling me that I’m never going to make it through the gates of Heaven because I don’t go to your church or live the life that you want for me. It’s my life, and I like it that way.

I really don’t care about other people’s political agendas, and more than likely I will never ask you yours unless I feel we are on the same page and can have an enlightening adult conversation. I personally think there are better things to care about in life. With that in mind, please deter from sending me your hate-filled emails about how you think our President sucks because I voted, you voted, but someone obviously lost. Get over it.

While I’m on the topic of our President, I also don’t care to hear your racist attitudes and the use of the “N” word. I find it offensive and harsh, and the funny thing is I am finding more and more people who call themselves Christians using the word more than anyone. I don’t care what color a person is and I don’t think Jesus did either. If you have issues with that, please keep it to yourself. This isn’t the 1950’s anymore, and it makes you look ignorant. I have friends of all colors; maybe you should try it sometime, too.

If you are a homophobe, that is your problem, not mine. I don’t care about your opinions and what gay people do behind closed doors or even out in the open for that matter. So please abstain from ranting to me on how much you hate gays because you are really missing out on having some great friends.

While I also appreciate good, constructive criticism, you can take your anonymous negative comments and shove them where the sun won’t rise. Sitting behind a computer and posting rude things anonym-ASSly is total douchebagism. Grow some nads.

From now on – whether they are known or anonymous – any hate-filled messages will be ignored and deleted. ‘Nuff said.