Saturday, December 12, 2009

Sarah Rants About Kmart

Why? Why? Why do I go to Kmart?

I hate Kmart. Every time I go there I leave angry. It must be a job requirement to be stupid or just really, really high to work there.

This time I bought the following things: a four pack of wrapping paper, some tape, some mittens and a pack of stickers.

It took two people seven minutes to check me out.

And neither one of them gave me my bags.


I wasn't even sure if I was supposed to get it myself or if they weren't done with me yet.

And then I couldn't leave because two other guys were standing in my way. They were between the cash register and the door. One was an employee and one was a shopper. They weren't talking to each other, they weren't looking at each other they were both just standing around completely on their own near each other. Not close enough to be touching, but close enough to completely block my path and since I couldn't move the lady behind me in line (who was coughing as if she had H1N1) couldn't move forward so that she could hang out for seven to ten minutes while the two cashiers tried to figure out how to sell he a pack of gum.

I know why I go there. I go there because it is across the street from a really great library and Target isn't really quite as close.

But every time I go to Kmart, that one or any one anywhere I leave angry.

Every. Stinking. Time.

So I am through. Kmart is dead to me. DEAD TO ME!


I feel much better.


Friday, December 11, 2009

Sarah Reviews Charmin Ultra

I was asked if I would like to review Charmin Ultra for my review blog.

Before I really thought about it I said "Yes! Of course!" because, duh, free toilet paper. I get a lot of pitches, but toilet paper is something I use every singe day without exception.

Then the toilet paper showed up and I was pleased because somebody who shall remain nameless bought us cheap toilet paper and I for one think that if you are going to skimp maybe the stuff that touches your privates isn't the best place to save money.

So I put a roll in my bathroom. That is when it hit me.

Oh my God, I am going to have to write about wiping my ass.

I think it is pretty safe to assume that you want to read about it even less than I want to write about it so suffice it to say that the Charmin Ultra was far superior to the cheap Angel Soft that I had been using right before that.

I can also say with complete honesty that the next time I bought toilet paper I bought the Charmin Ultra.

Because when it comes to wiping your junk you really want something soft.

I should work in advertising.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I Left My iPhone in Philadelphia*

I found myself standing in the rain in front of Union Station thinking to myself

What kind of moron leaves her iPhone on the seat of the van?

Of course the answer is THIS kind of moron. I remembered my backpack. I remembered the Nikon D90 that I am borrowing. I remembered my purse. I remembered to bring my laptop bag. And I forgot my iPhone. My security blanket. I don’t leave home without it. I don’t go to the mailbox without it. It is my phone, my watch, my address book, my memo pad, my book, my iPod. It is the non-human love of my life.

More importantly, why was I in Philadelphia?

I went up with a few other parenting bloggers. We were invited by GlaxoSmithKline** to tour their vaccine packaging facility. I know that sounds strange, and I guess it sort of is. The thing is that big pharmaceutical companies tend to have reputations for being money grubbing soulless conglomerates just out to make a buck off of the misfortunes of others. I think that they wanted us to know that at least when it comes to vaccines it is more often about saving lives or stopping pandemics.

I don't think I've ever told you where I stand on vaccinating my children.

(screws off the lid on brand new extra large can of worms)

I give my kids whatever the pediatrician tells me to except for the flu shot.

This is the part where karma turns around and runs to my house with H1N1. I am certain of it.

I will tell you why. I think immunizations save lives. I have very close friends who believe that their children have autism because of vaccinations, but I am convinced that it is a risk worth taking. People died from Polio. People died from Rubella. My children won't.

I will also tell you why I don't like the flu shot. I talk to people who get the flu shot and then they get sick. It seems like a no-brainer. Plus one of my neighbors had very, very, very, very, very, very bad reaction to a flu shot. I understand that he was the .1% but it still scared the bejesus out of me.

I went not having any idea what to expect.

There were some presentations. Dr. Len Friedland talked about the vaccines that he had worked on and Isabelle Claxton (the head of public policy & advocacy for the GlaxoSmithKline Vaccine Division) gave a presentation about public policy and advocacy. That part was interesting. These people are really smart and passionate about what they do.

Next we toured the actual facility. We had to wear safety goggles and hair covers and shoe covers and everything. They wouldn't let us take our cameras in or believe you me right now you would be looking at something more interesting than this picture that we took outside.


The tour was fine. The machinery was impressive and the whole place was shockingly clean (I guess it has to be, but I've never seen such immaculate garbage bins in my life.) but one part moved me.

We were watching the line and hundreds of vaccines were being put into hundreds of boxes. Really, just like any automated packaging line (but cleaner) and Dr. Friedland got really close to the glass to see what exactly was being packaged. He stepped back with a strange look on his face and a tear in his eye and said "That is my vaccine".

Dr. Friedland was one of the doctors that developed the product we were looking at and it was going to save lives. They couldn't say too much but I was under the impression that it was something that they had worked very hard on recently. They needed to get it pushed out faster.

For the pandemic.

This isn't like me turning in an article ahead of deadline or writing a particularly good Top Chef recap. This was bigger than that. These people were doing something important for humanity.

The trip was cool. I feel like I got to meet some really fascinating people, I got to get to know some new blogging friends and I got to see some of my older blogging friends. I really just wish I was smart enough to check to make sure my cell phone was in my pocket before I got out of the van.

I am still not going to run out and get the flu shot, but I certainly have a kinder, gentler, more human impression of large drug companies.

But I think I am going to go get my tetanus shot booster. Some of the slides they showed us had pictures.



* To be sung to the tune of “I Left My Wallet in El Segundo”

** Our train tickets, hotel rooms and meals were paid for by GSK. We received no other compensation. We were also under no obligation whatsoever to write about the trip.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Hooked on Phonics Worked for Me!

It sounds so cheesy. It sounds like a lie, but Hooked on Phonics worked for me. Well, I already knew how to read, but Hooked on Phonics worked for my kids.

I was an early reader. I could read before I went to kindergarten and so could my brother. My husband read even earlier than I did. My mother has a masters degree in library science and used to be the adult literacy coordinator for an entire county. My father can speed read. My mother-in-law reads more than anyone else I have ever met. I love to read. Everyone I am related to loves to read. My husband can read and watch TV at the same time and process both the book and the show.

So I was feeling sort of like a failure when I was about to send my kids to school and they could read exactly three words: Ian, Claudia and cat.

My Dad taught them how to spell cat when they were three.

My kids are five. They know all of their letters and which sound each letter makes. They just weren't able to put all this knowledge together and, you know, read.

When the Parent Bloggers Network asked who wanted to review Hooked on Phonics I jumped at the chance. I've been looking at this product for a long time, but it isn't cheap.

They sent me a copy and we put in the introductory DVD. It was fine.

We did the first unit. It seemed to go well.

The next day we did the second unit and it was even better. Same with the third.

At the end of the third unit there was a little book to read. My kids were able to read it. Of course, it was called "Cat" and it was only eight pages long, but it boosted their confidence.

A lot.

They got really into the whole project and wanted to do "lessons" twice a day.

My kids can read now. I'm not kidding. I mean, they aren't reading James Joyce yet, they aren't even reading Stephenie Meyer yet, but they can read words. They can sound words out. Neither of them could do that three weeks ago.

I'm not sure exactly what it is about the Hooked on Phonics system works, but it does. It isn't even anything they didn't already know, but somehow it made reading click for my children.

I am beyond thrilled. I should have bought the "Learn to Read" box two years ago.



I received this product for free from the Parent Bloggers Network. These are my own personal words and opinions.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sarah Reviews The Other Boleyn Girl

About a two years ago I read the novel "The Other Boleyn Girl" by Philippa Gregory. I loved it. I couldn't put it down. I went out and read four more Gregory books.

About six months later I heard they were making a movie out of the novel. I was concerned about the casting of Eric Bana as Henry Tudor, but I was still excited to see it.

Then the movie was released and everyone said the movie was terrible.

I figured that they meant the acting was bad. I figured wrong.

The acting was fine. I even think Natalie Portman did a pretty good job. Bana was flat, as usual, but I nearly bought him as King Henry VIII.

What sucked was either the screenplay or the editing. I know my English history, I read the book, I watch The Tudors AND I STILL HAD TROUBLE FOLLOWING THE PLOT.

Really, they should have gone back to watch it just to make sure the film made sense. I'm pretty sure there were scenes left on the cutting room floor explaining what happened to Mary's first husband. Actually, I think a lot of the scenes were left out and instead they just left in a lot of wide shots of people walking down halls because the sets and costumes were far superior to any dialogue.

I give it two stars, but only because I liked the book.

ps - Scarlett Johansson sure is wearing a lot of makeup in the movie poster. I noticed specifically that they weren't wearing much makeup during the movie. I thought it was a good choice considering the era.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Sarah Has Predictions About "The Blind Side" Movie

I absolutely adored the book The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game by Michael Lewis.

It was a non-fiction account of offensive lineman Michael Oher. He has an amazing story. He was poor, neglected and illiterate. Through an amazing twist of fate he was taken in by a wealthy Memphis family who discovered he was a football prodigy.

The book was well written and delved a lot into the philosophy of the game of football while telling the story of how Michael Oher ended up at Ole Miss.

So this morning I saw that they were making a movie out of the book.

With Sandra Bullock.

So, you want to know what I think, right?

I want to know how this story became about the Mom.

That being said, when I watched the trailer I cried like a baby. I don't know that this film will be representative of the spirit of the book, but it still looks pretty good.

It is an amazing story.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Sarah Reviews: Rage Against the Meshugenah by Danny Evans

It starts like this:
My first therapist's name was Neil Diamond, but he didn't wear sequins, didn't bring me flowers, and most certainly did not turn on my heartlight...

I read a lot and not many books have me laughing out loud during the freaking prologue.*

The book is called Rage Against the Meshugenah: Why it Takes Balls to Go Nuts and it was written by one of my favorite writers, Danny Evans.


Yes, THAT Danny Evans. Dad Gone Mad, people. Another one of us bloggers has gone legit.

And Danny makes us look good.

The truth is that I have been a huge fan of his for a couple of years now and I would probably say nice things about his book even if it sucked, but I don't have to.

I was a little concerned that a book about clinical depression would be a real downer. There are certain topics that hit close to home and "Rage" hit on a couple of these for me. For example, besides just being sports fans and bloggers Danny and I have something else in common, we both lost any faith we had (and by faith I mean a belief system, like me in the corner, me in the spotlight kind of faith) after a miscarriage.

We also have this in common:
I don't like waking up. I like being awake, obviously, because that is when all the good sports are on TV. But the actual transition from sleep to alertness kind of bums me out.

See? I didn't have to worry about anything written by Danny being a drag, even if it was a memoir about depression.

There was one thing I should have been concerned about. I should have been worried about reading "Rage Against the Meshugenah" in public. You see, I read the end of the book on the train home from New York. Not to ruin the book for you, but the part where his daughter is born made me cry. Not just a few tears, but the kind of crying where your nose runs and all the people on the train look at you funny and your husband is embarrassed because it probably looks like he did something to make you cry like that.

I assure you (and my fellow train passengers) that it was not Gabe, but Mr. Evans that was making me cry like that and then four minutes later making me laugh just as hard as I had previously cried so that I looked like either an asshole or like I was having the worlds worst mood swings ever.

I am not going to tell you what made me laugh like that because I want you to read the book. I want you to buy the book. I ended up with two copies** of it and I am considering buying another one just because I feel like I should be doing more to contribute to Danny success.

He certainly deserves it.

Rage Against the Meshugenah goes on sale tomorrow (August 4th) and you should all read it because if you like what I write, you will love what Danny writes.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Sarah Reviews Romeo + Juliet

The first time I saw the Baz Luhrmann version of Romeo + Juliet (1996) I thought it was brilliant.

It seemed interesting and innovative and modern.

Of course that was probably 12 years ago.

Because I just watched it again and it made me twitchy. I was yelling at my tv - "Take it easy with the MTV edits!"

Either this movie got old quickly or I did.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Because it Makes Me Happy

I completely forgot about this video, but it makes me smile every time I watch it.

By Scapegoat Wax - Aisle 10 (Hello Allison)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Sarah Reviews Totally Random Things in Rapid Sequence

Pace Salsa Verde - surprisingly tasty for a mass produced jarred salsa.

K-Mart - They never have anything I am looking for. How are they still in business?

Best Buy Customer Service - One giant fail. I went there to buy an iMac and I couldn't get the attention of a sales person. I called the store (from inside the store on my cell phone) and nobody answered even though I could see the staff hanging out with each other talking about personal things. I finally stopped someone as they were walking by, she went and got a girl (whom I had been making eye contact with and who had completely been ignoring me).

I walked out, right after I explained to a manager why I would be spending my $1,700 (I needed accessories too) elsewhere.

I bought it at Micro Center. Those guys were really nice.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Kite Runner

Sometime in late 2003 we were visiting my husband's parents.

My father-in-law handed me the copy of The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini that he just finished and said it was excellent and I should read it.

I brought it home and put it on my bedside table.

It has pretty much lived on my bedside table for five and a half years.

Between then and now I would say no less than 20 other people have recommended The Kite Runner to me. They even made a movie out of it. I kept thinking, I'll read it next, I'll read it next.

This week I read it.

It was a heart wrenching tale. You've probably already, but if not it is a story about the trials of an Afghani boy who becomes a man in very difficult times. It is a story about deception and redemption.

I don't want to give the plot away - I can't stand that type of book review, but I will say this - all those people who told me what a wonderful book it was were telling the truth. Once I got through the first couple of chapters, Hosseini sucked me in and kept me reading.

I should have read it six years ago.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Charity Can Be Fun

See? Charity work doesn't have to be all work and no play.

Devra, Chef Spike and I joined the Quaker Go program yesterday and we went to the Capital Area Food Bank to do some volunteer work.

Along with Quaker, we helped the food bank organize the food to go out to Washington D.C. area pantries to help feed the hungry.

For once I was working too hard to take pictures, but if I get some better ones from Quaker I will let you know. In the mean time, behold the glow of my reflective zipper.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Death Metal for Kids

Fine, I admit it. I listened to Death Metal. Occasionally I still do.

As my husband is fond of saying - "You can take the girl out of Tampa...".

A while back I asked a good friend of mine to make me a mixed cd of songs for kids. ( I have a point here, I swear) and I was not at all surprised when my son decided he loved this song.

The Thunderlords bill themselves as The First Metal Band for kids. They might be right.

And nobody asked me to write this or gave me anything for free (except Erin, but that is different and it was also several years ago) but I have suddenly become popular with the under 5 car pool crowd and I thought I'd throw the rest of you a bone.

Because I rock.

*flashes you all the devil horns*

Friday, March 6, 2009

Searching and Winning

If you read my regular blog you may be aware that I am hopelessly addicted to search engines where you can win stuff just by searching.

I use blingo and winzy and several others, but I just came across a new one called swagbucks.

Here is what I like about swagbucks:

1) It is actually a pretty good search engine. It gets its results from Google and Sure, Google is still better, but you can't win any prizes or money searching on Google.

Search & Win

2) I win relatively frequently. I rarely won anything on Blingo or Winzy but I usually win at least one or two Swagbucks each day. Then you can buy things with your swagbucks.

Cool, huh?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

This Is SO GOOD!

If you like Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA (and I do) you may also really, really like:

Sierra Nevada Extra IPA - they call it The Torpedo.

And no - Sierra Nevada neither paid me to say this nor gave me free beer, but they should strongly consider it in the future.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Get Game Smart

I love my XBOX 360, but sometimes I worry that I let my kids have too much "screen time". Fortunately the people selling us the video games are worried about it too.

Do you want to learn more about parental controls? Do you want to win some prizes while you are at it?

Check it out.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Is This Thing On?


It is national delurking day. That pretty much means that I am asking you to come out of the woodwork and leave a comment just so that I know I am not talking to myself.

Or am I?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Win Super Bowl Tickets

If you want a shot at winning tickets to Super Bowl XLIV (for those of you not fluent in Roman Numerals that is next year's game, not the one in a few weeks) check out the Prilosec website.

Then if you win the tickets you can take me to the game. Deal?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Sarah Reviews: Garden State

I realize that the movie "Garden State" was actually released in 2004, but I just saw it for the first time yesterday.

Sure, people had told me that I should see it - that I would love it but I was reluctant to watch it.


Because I have issues with Zach Braff.

It isn't personal and it isn't really his fault.

I just loathe "Scrubs". I don't know why people think that show is funny. It is pandering. It is humor for stupid people.

This being the only place I had ever seen Braff I was not in a huge hurry to watch "Garden State".

You know what? Shame on me. It was an excellent movie. Zach Braff wrote and directed it and I think he did a fantastic job.

If you like dark humor and/or independent films you've probably already seen this anyway, but if you haven't I recommend it.
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