A brown belt for Big Guy – not that it’s important
Mon, 12/03/12 – 12:49 | Comments Off

It was testing week in karate and, as usual, Big Guy was under the gun. Not as much as he used to be, when he didn’t have a clue and had to frantically cram, but …

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Food

Picky eaters and allergy-safe cooking — the two aren’t necessarily unrelated.

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From policy to politics, this rant’s for you.

News

The day’s events in a family way — unless something else amuses me.

School days

From preschool to kindergarten — so far

Simple Gifts

Inexpensive homemade gifts, creative parties and low-cost projects, for Christmas and beyond. Many are easy enough for children to help.

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Articles tagged with: Consumer news

3 million reasons you should care about Net Neutrality
Wednesday, 2 Feb, 2011 – 16:39 | Comments Off
3 million reasons you should care about Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality. Are you asleep yet?
You’re not alone if the mere mention of the words makes you drowsy. A lot of people don’t even understand what it is, including a conservative blogger I ran across …

It’s not the price of news. It’s the price of everything else online
Monday, 24 Jan, 2011 – 17:29 | One Comment
It’s not the price of news. It’s the price of everything else online

It  sounds frivolous to compare the New York Times to a children’s Web site and instant movie access, but those are the economic facts at my house.
Club Penguin: $12 a month – $6 per kid. …

I know what I want – I just don’t see it yet
Friday, 5 Mar, 2010 – 20:13 | Comments Off
I know what I want – I just don’t see it yet

I pay $65 a month for satellite TV service, and that’s way too much considering that we regularly watch only  Nickelodeon, ESPN and the local FOX affiliate. The package includes 200 channels, many of which …

It’s not retail therapy; it’s education
Thursday, 25 Feb, 2010 – 10:39 | Comments Off
It’s not retail therapy; it’s education

What could possibly be more annoying than a 6-year-old who fritters away every dime on candy or a bright shiny object that’s going to hold his interest only for as long as it takes to …

A SWAT to Verizon for trying to squeeze people who want to leave
Friday, 25 Dec, 2009 – 18:00 | Comments Off
A SWAT to Verizon for trying to squeeze people who want to leave

Pity the poor ginormous telecom that’s forced to scrape for every nickel and dime it can find in order to stay afloat. Eventually, those costs have to be passed along to the consumer, you know.
I’m …

Warning: Don’t eat the lip balm
Monday, 30 Nov, 2009 – 23:26 | 2 Comments
Warning:  Don’t eat the lip balm

I thought nothing could ever top the warning the eyeglass cleaner at work used to carry: Do not use on contact lenses.
That was before last weekend, when I bought a box of lip balm that …

If they won’t build them right, ban them
Monday, 23 Nov, 2009 – 22:42 | Comments Off
If they won’t build them right, ban them

Here’s a great example of how we’ve improved products over the years to the point of making them heaping piles of junk.
The crib I slept in as babe decades ago now lives in my parents’ …

Pay-per-mile auto insurance could be the new HMO
Thursday, 5 Nov, 2009 – 0:43 | 2 Comments
Pay-per-mile auto insurance could be the new HMO

Why would someone who barely drives not jump at the chance to buy “pay per mile” auto insurance, which the Brookings Institute estimates will cut most people’s yearly insurance costs $270 per car?
Well, for one, …

You didn’t take that ‘Einstein’ stuff seriously, did you?
Sunday, 25 Oct, 2009 – 22:21 | 4 Comments
You didn’t take that ‘Einstein’ stuff seriously, did you?

The newest marketing pitch from Disney on its “Baby Einstein” line, since the old one has gone down in legal flames: The DVDs are about “fostering parent-child interaction.”
Of course they always have been, a Disney …

The case against coupons
Wednesday, 23 Sep, 2009 – 22:56 | 2 Comments
The case against coupons

Ten years ago or so, I was a hopeless coupon geek.
I’d religiously clip the Sunday paper, sort the coupons into envelopes and then put them in order of expiration date. I’d write my grocery list …

How “overdraft” becomes “way the heck over” draft
Sunday, 20 Sep, 2009 – 22:39 | One Comment
How “overdraft” becomes “way the heck over” draft

So apparently I’m not the only one to have an inattentive lapse that amounted to a couple of dollars come back to bite me to the tune of triple-digits.
I’ll take full responsibility for one overdraft …

A SWAT for letting the big company skate
Thursday, 27 Aug, 2009 – 22:18 | Comments Off
A SWAT for letting the big company skate

Remember the big toy recall of two summers ago,when everything from Thomas trains to Dora campers disappeared from retailers’ shelves as plaything after plaything was recalled for violating lead standards?
Remember Congress’ uncharacteristic haste in the …

Stopping credit-card fraud by stopping credit-card use
Thursday, 27 Aug, 2009 – 13:45 | Comments Off
Stopping credit-card fraud by stopping credit-card use

Want in on a little secret about how your credit card company is going to guarantee that you won’t be responsible for any fraudulent purchases?
They’re going to do it by stopping anyone – including you …

A SWAT for trying to hit workers when they’re down
Thursday, 9 Jul, 2009 – 22:44 | 2 Comments
A SWAT for trying to hit workers when they’re down

It’s the most obvious promotion on Earth for business in a capital city, so of course Sacramento businesses quickly decided to offer state workers discounts on their “furlough Fridays” – their mandatory unpaid time off …

Consumers win round in credit-card shoot out, but it’s not nearly over
Wednesday, 1 Apr, 2009 – 0:22 | Comments Off
Consumers win round in credit-card shoot out, but it’s not nearly over

If you hold your breath every time a letter arrives from your bank and pray it’s not telling you your credit-card interest rate is about to skyrocket, don’t exhale just because Connecticut Sen. Christopher Dodd’s …

FDA still asleep on BPA issue
Monday, 3 Nov, 2008 – 12:17 | Comments Off
FDA still asleep on BPA issue

Sometimes the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reminds me of Big Guy looking for his shoes in the morning.
“Where are they?” he’ll say.
“They’re right beside you.”
“But I don’t see them.”
Dude, just look.
Which is not …

If you want the BPA problem solved, you’ll have to do it yourself
Friday, 26 Sep, 2008 – 19:13 | Comments Off
If you want the BPA problem solved, you’ll have to do it yourself

The state of California couldn’t do it, and the feds won’t. Looks like it’s up to consumers to get rid of toxic plastic.

A year later, there’s hope we’ll finally get the lead out of toys
Friday, 15 Aug, 2008 – 3:47 | Comments Off

I suppose 14 months isn’t an excessive gestation period for a law, especially when you consider that except for bills that bail out big businesses, it can take dog years for Congress to act.

Still, it seems like centuries ago that parents were aghast and children were distraught as the Grinch Who Stole Summer snatched 45 million toys off shelves due to lead contamination.

Everything from backpacks to trains to Little People were recalled, leaving folks befuddled that this was happening in the 21st Century. I thought experts had established long ago that lead exposure is bad for children.

A few far right wing nuts, though, saw conspiracy:

“”Are you falling for this BS about children’s toys and the dangers of?”" the lunatic fringe asked at a site where I used to blog. “”This is nothing but an all out attempt by the unions

Easy-to-use car seat a myth, and the ratings prove it
Sunday, 1 Jun, 2008 – 21:21 | Comments Off

I’m from the government and I’m here to help you?

That actually happened today when the National Transportation Safety Administration unveiled a new way for parents to evaluate car seats – ease of use.

All the old standards remain – quality of instructions and labels and, the most important one, how well it secures the child.

Now they’ve added ease of use to the five-star system, in an attempt to tell parents how hard the seat is to install.

You’ll have to pardon my pessimism – I refuse to say “how easy the seat is to install,” because none is. Not unless you’re Bart Conner and Nadia Comaneci. They’ve probably choreographed a floor exercise based on car-seat installation.

I am a smallish, fairly limber person, but my cute