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Not For Me: Natural Healthy Concepts

December 1, 2016

I’m all for the convenience of online shopping, so a couple of years ago when I needed some vitamins I thought why go up to Walgreens or Target when I can order them online. So I found a place in Wisconsin called Natural Healthy Concepts and I placed my order and everything was good. I had no complaints with the company and when I ran out I even bought a second order from them.

So flash forward a year-and-however-many-days and here I am with daily spam from Natural Healthy Concepts which, as I’m sure you know, is annoying. Simple solution though, just click on the unsubscribe button and all is well, right? Not with Natural Healthy Concepts it’s not. Click on their unsubscribe button and you’re taken to the email subscription preferences page that displays your email address and shows the radio button for “Unsubscribe me from all promotional emails.” button already selected for you. A simple click on the green “Save Changes” button should be all it takes, but no. Clicking on that button gives you a little error pop-up window that tells you: “Whoops! Looks like we had trouble communication [sic] with the server. Sorry about that. If it happens again please contact us.”

So maybe you do what I do and you contact the vendor. And then maybe what’ll happen to you is what happened to me and you never get a reply from the vendor and the daily spam piles up. And then maybe you do what I do and you contact them three times because you think banging your head against a brick wall is fun, and three times you receive their automated reply that tells you: “Thank you for contacting!  One of our Customer Care representatives will answer your request as soon as possible.  Our goal is to answer emails within 2 business days.” but you find that no one contacts you back and nothing changes. And then maybe you do what I finally did and you give up and simply block their email address.

Yes, I could have simply blocked their email address at the beginning and been done with it but I shouldn’t have to do that. This is a company in business to sell to customers, and part of selling to customers – in my book – is servicing customers, and I wanted service from Natural Healthy Concepts and I never received it.

Bottom line for me is that while Natural Healthy Concepts gave me a product I was shopping for and shipped it to me quickly, despite their slick looking, albeit malfunctioning, website, they’re a company I can’t trust because they’re obviously not there for me unless they can sell me something and that’s not the type of customer service I’m looking for from a vendor so they’re a company that I’ll never buy from again. There are far too many other online companies out there to buy from who actually care about their customer’s needs that extends beyond a sale and I won’t deal with one, like Natural Healthy Concepts, that doesn’t provide that type of customer care. If you’re in the market for an online vitamin retailer I advise you to steer away from Natural Healthy Concepts and find one that cares and is willing to service your needs and treat you with the respect you deserve.

Sharon Jones

November 19, 2016

With the recent passings of such high profiles artists as Leon Russell, Mose Allison and Leonard Cohen, and the not-so-high-profile passing of Holly Dunn, it’s sad to see another artist leave us this month: Sharon Jones.

The internet knows more about Ms. Jones than I do, I just like her music, so that’s where you should turn if you’re interested in learning more about her life, of if you’ve never listened to her, or her band, The Dap-Kings, before.

Here’s a good interview from NPR’s Dinner Party Download that was conducted just this past July.

And here’s a video of Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings from a concert where they were the opening act for Prince.

Rest in peace, Sharon. You’ll be missed . . .

Coping with America

November 14, 2016

I’m one of that slightly more than half of American voters who isn’t happy with the outcome of last week’s presidential election. I tell myself that it’ll all be OK, that the nation has always had ups and downs, and that we’ll survive this down no matter how low it goes. I try and tell myself that maybe this won’t even be a down because the president elect Mr. Trump sounds, so far, different than the Republican candidate Mr. Trump, and that helps me feel a little better. But then I hear stories about racist graffiti in two Minnesota high schools, and on colleges in Pennsylvania and San Diego, and in other cities around the nation and I see president-elect Trump on 60 Minutes claim that he’s not aware of any violence this past week against African Americans, Latinos and gays and my anxiety and sadness returns and I don’t feel a little better anymore.

When I sit and assess my reactions to this past week I think about what I can do to make myself more at ease and one of the things I come back to is Facebook. Facebook can be great fun: writing groups, TV groups, baseball groups, reconnecting with old friends and meeting new friends, chatting with different people, and a never-ending supply of animal videos to break up the most stressful of days. But Facebook has become, for me, a very depressing playground. The language, rhetoric, misinformation, disrespect and name-calling by that slightly less than half of American voters who are happy with the outcome of last week’s president election is on a par with what we heard and saw from the candidate himself during the campaign. And so I keep coming back to the thought that it’s maybe in my best interest to deactivate my account for a time.

When I sit I also try and figure out how I can best survive in a world that seems to be more and more prone to hate and fear and bullying and intolerance and I came up with some ideas that I’m going to work on incorporating into my life in the hope that it’ll make me, and hopefully others, feel better.

  • When I see people – especially a person of color or someone who looks like they may not be native to the US – I can make eye contact and smile. And if I get the chance, I can say, “Hello”. Maybe this isn’t a big thing but maybe it’ll make the other person feel more at ease and less fearful that every person they see (especially white men) walking down the street dislikes them or mistrusts them because of the color of their skin or their style of dress.
  • I can remember that everyone I come in contact with is just like me. They have the same hopes and desires and feelings that I have. They have the same blood that I have. They have fears and they laugh when they’re happy and they cry when they’re sad. I can know that if I hold the door for someone who doesn’t acknowledge the gesture, rather than becoming angry, I can remember that maybe that other person is distracted, or anxious, or their back hurts or they’re stressed. This doesn’t mean I have to justify rude behavior, it just means that I can try and understand it.
  • I can keep my eyes on the road and not speed and stay away from cracks and potholes. This one doesn’t really have as much to do with me as it does with my car. Of course a smoothly running car is a good thing for me. And it gives me something to concentrate on that doesn’t involve other drivers.
  • I can give to charity. If I don’t live in a country where I can rely on the government to help the hungry and the poor, the homeless, veterans, the elderly and the disabled, then it’s up to me to be a part of the solution and to pick up the slack. Pick a charity or a cause and give to it.
  • I won’t step on ants. Ants are so small that they appear to be insignificant. And for the most part, with the exception of some species that most of us are never going to encounter in our lives, they’re nothing more than a pest. But because they’re so small as to appear to be insignificant that makes it easy to step on them without a thought. Step on and kill an ant without giving it a thought makes it that much easier to step on something else (like someone’s rights or their feelings?) without giving it a thought. So while I give thought to the people I encounter, I’ll give thought to the ants I encounter as well and acknowledge their place on the planet. (Hoping on this one I don’t encounter them in my home!)
  • Rather than become annoyed with children I see in public I can pay attention to how they react when they’re enthused about something and try and copy that enthusiasm.
  • I can pick my news sources. Mainstream media makes money by the number of viewers they gather so it’s in their interest to present the most sensational stories possible. If there’s no hair-raising or lurid story to report on they’ll create one. Do I want manufactured, or “massaged”, news stories or do I want simple and factual reporting?
  • I can make it a point to meditate and stretch every day, not just when I remember.
  • I can continue to eat fewer animals.
  • I can accept the result of the election with the same dignity that Secretary Clinton and President Obama did.
  • I can surround myself with other people who maybe feel the same way I do.
  • And finally I can listen to more Warren Zevon.

I’m not really sure where this leaves me but it gives me things, good things, positive things, to think about as opposed to thinking about the person we just elected to lead and guide our nation, and how we chose to follow a demagogue down the path of racism and xenophobia while thumbing our noses at social conscience and health care and equal rights, and the people who are OK with that.

As for Facebook – I don’t know. There are a lot of people and things I’ll miss, but the negativity is brutal and it’s something I can’t be around.


October 26, 2016

The thought of banned books – or banned anything – is interesting and I liked the author’s thought about the possibility of placing ratings on books as we’ve done with movies. The two lists are interesting although I’m not sure if these are recommended for straight bans or for bans for a reader of a certain age.

It's All in Finding the Right Words

banned_books US Department of Labor Blog

Every year another book-hits-the-fanfor its over-the-top content. Something about the book suddenly offends someone and the world is then notified… therefore the “bad” book gets all kinds of press and is “banned” from public consumption.

I suspect that the more attention that is placed on a banned book, the more consumers step-up-to-the-plate to read the offence-to-the-masses.

Maybe there ought to be ratings placed on books as we have on movies? But to silence the voices that one does not approve of or happen to appreciate their point-of-view or content… this is not good for our society as a whole.

(I am now stepping down from my pulpit…) 

If you would like to see (or maybe even browse through) a book that has shaken the mores of our world, below are the two most current lists.

100 Most Frequently Challenged Books 1990–1999

  1. Scary Stories (series)…

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The Baseball Finale

October 25, 2016

Big game tonight in case you haven’t heard!

I’m not much of a fan of either the Cleveland Indians or the Chicago Cubs, but I’ll be – despite my agreeing with Native American protests pointing to the team’s name and logo caricature as both being offensive and in need of change – pulling for the Cleveland guys. I like the idea of the World Series winner coming from the same division as my beloved Minnesota Twins for two straight years and I also like baseball tradition, and one of those baseball’s most enduring traditions is the Chicago Cubs being known as the “Lovable Losers”. So, with apologies to the great Steve Goodman and the millions of Chicagoans living on the city’s north side (and the defectors from the south side), here’s hoping the Cubs stay that way.

But it’s going to be tough. I’m a big believer that good pitching beats good hitting and wins baseball games, and as good as the Cleveland pitching staff is, the Cubs staff is better. But the way baseball is played today I’m not sure that the bullpen isn’t more important than any team’s five starters and Cleveland has a better bullpen. Plus Cleveland has the home field advantage. So for what it’s worth I’m going with Cleveland in six games. But considering my prognostication skills when it comes to picking sporting events, you might want to book a flight out to Las Vegas and put whatever you own on the Cubs.

I guess the bottom line is that it really doesn’t matter who wins because the series is going to be fun simply because of the history of the two teams. It’s been 71 years since the Cubs have played in a World Series and the last time they won the championship was in 1908. The Indians made it to the World Series just 19 years ago but they haven’t won the championship since 1948. Regardless of who wins the agony will finally end for one city.

“I can’t listen to the radio; I can’t open the paper,” my father told me a couple of weeks ago. “If they win, I might move to Canada.”

The above quote is from an enjoyable essay I read the other day from the perspective of a Chicago White Sox fan and his father.

And since I mentioned Steve Goodman above, here’s this:

When I was a boy they were my pride and joy but now they only bring fatigue to the home of the brave, the land of the free, and the doormat of the National League. – From A Dying Cubs Fan’s Last Request

So what team are you picking?

Water, water everywhere . . .

October 13, 2016

. . . but the boards didn’t shrink.

For this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge, Lignum Draco asks us to experiment with water. The word “experiment” flashed me back, and in the interest of full disclosure, before I share my pictures, I’d like to say right now to anyone reading this that there was a time in my life – please know I was much younger – when I experimented with dihydrogen monoxide. I’m not particularly proud of the fact and I have no excuse other than many of us did a lot of crazy things when we were younger. The late sixties and early seventies were a crazy time and peer pressure can sometimes be a terrible thing that’s all the excuse I have. I did eventually stop my experimenting and I’m here all these years later so I guess all’s well that ends well, no?

Here we go –

A river (yeah, I know, nothing original there)






The turtle family



The Veggie Burger that Bleeds?

October 13, 2016

Impossible Foods gives us a new veggie burger that’s advertised as being so close to a meat burger that it “bleeds”. I’m all for a good veggie burger – whether it’s homemade or store bought, but Impossible Foods lab grown Impossible Burger isn’t a way to get me rushing into line to buy one. I can’t think of anything more unappetizing than food that bleeds. And while I respect the attempt, the inclusion of coconut oil makes a healthy alternative to red meat just as unhealthy – if not more so – than red meat. One three ounce Impossible Foods Impossible Burger has 220 calories and contains a whopping 11 grams (54% recommended daily value) of saturated fat. That’s right up there in artery-clogging territory with McDonald’s Quarter Pounder. And at least with the Quarter Pounder you get an extra ounce of food.

Sorry, Impossible Foods, I appreciate the effort, but I’ll pass on this one.

I understand wanting to make a burger that’s environmentally friendly and that doesn’t involve the sacrifice of animals, and I understand wanting to win over meat eaters with a plant-based alternative, but in the rush to create veggie burgers, what I think gets forgotten is that there are a lot of reasons people don’t eat meat and creating a plant-based alternative that looks like meat and tastes like meat and smells like meat – and bleeds like meat – is, for a lot of people, kind of nauseating. If you want to win me over, don’t focus on something that looks, tastes and smells like the meat I don’t eat, focus on giving me something that tastes good and is fresh and healthy.

So which veggie burgers do I like? I give a big thumbs up to Engine 2 Plant Strong burgers and I also like Dr. Praeger’s and Gardein (as well as pretty much all the Gardein products), and a sentimental favorite is Boca Burgers because they’re the first veggie burger I ever ate. Of course the best veggie burgers are the ones you make yourself and the internet is a treasure trove of recipes so a person is never at a loss for a new one to try. If you have a favorite veggie burger recipe please feel free to send it to me! Either post it in the comments below or email me at michael55345 at gmail dot com.

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