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Thank you for your loyalty. Snugglenugget has moved to a new location and has changed names. The focus of the new blog is fatherhood, but it will contain all of the quirky and informational posts that you have come to love at Snugglenugget. Please visit our new location on the web.

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An Eggcellent Way to Ruin Easter – Wal-Mart Edition

I have ranted before about the pitfalls and high level of customer disservice at Wal-Mart. This time though it is a matter of public safety. It could potentially be a matter of life and death.

April 2, 2010 – I wandered into the local Wal-Mart store (Oconee County, GA) around 8:00PM in search of something

Eggstra Big Disaster

Actual Photo - 13 hours unrefrigerated!

for the Easter Bunny to leave at my house. There was a large display of egg coloring supplies on a display rack, and on that rack cartons of what appeared to be candy eggs. As I approached the display I noticed that some of these “candy eggs” seemed to be oozing out of the bottom of the cartons. That’s when it hit me that these were not candy eggs, but real eggs sitting there unrefrigerated. WHAT? NO WAY! I opened a carton and sure enough, a broken egg greeted me with open shell.  What do I do? As a former restaurant manager, I know what the food safety guidelines are regarding such matters, so I touched the eggs to see if they were even still cold and they felt as if they had been sat on by a chicken.

I made my way to the customer service counter, and promptly asked to speak to a manager. I was asked if the customer service rep could help me. I explained the gravity of the situation to her and she ran to her supervisor who was also appalled. He called the manager on duty over and I explained to him the concerns in regard to food saftey and explained to him that I would not be purchasing food from his store any longer because I had no confidence that their food was being handled safely. I asked if he knew how long the eggs had been on the shelf. He informed me that the General Manager had asked them to put them out at 8:00 AM and that he had protested, but was told to put them out anyway. “That is 13 hours”, I gasped. “Someone could die if they eat those eggs”, I said. He agreed to remove the eggs from the display, and he did. I told him that I would have to trust that he was going to throw the eggs away and not put them back in the cooler. I still am not sure that they were discarded.

This morning, I contacted the General Manager and confronted him about his decision. At first he made excuses for why it was ok to leave eggs on display and told me that they were being rotated every two to three hours. Then I told him what was said by the manager the night before and the story changed to “I am sorry, I made a bad decision”. I asked him if he understood that his decision to put raw eggs out on display unrefrigerated could potentially kill someone, and he did. I explained that first I feel an obligation to my family to no longer shop in his store, because the safety of my family is more important than saving a few bucks. Next, I feel an obligation to the community to let as many people know that their food is potentially unsafe to eat. I explained that I would be notifying the Health Inspector and other health organizations, that I would be notifying local radio stations, newspapers, everyone I know on Facebook and Twitter as well as my family and friends, all of which I have done. He said that he wishes that he could take his decision back. I explained that in life we make decisions sometime that carry dire consequences, and that this one could cost his store a lot of business as well as costing someone their life. No Wal-Mart lawyer can bring back someones loved one.

I think that what bothers me most about this situation is that in 13 hours many Wal-Mart employees, managers and supervisors walked by that display and didn’t think a thing about it except for the manager that said that he protested. It bothers me that he didn’t take a stand for public safety and refuse to put the eggs out. It bothers me that no one cared enough until I explained the situation. Perhaps they don’t know any better (that’s another issue), or maybe they just don’t care. What i do know is that I will not be giving my business to a company who doesn’t have the safety of their customers at heart. I just hope, for the sake of Wal-Mart and the families involved, that some child doesn’t find one of those eggs under a bush on Easter morning, eat it and meet with ill results.

Here are some links on Egg Safety for your own education:

The Egg Safety Center

FDA Egg Safety

Why WalMart Employees Don’t Respect Their Customers

walmartToday I was at WalMart as I often am. It is not so much because I enjoy the place or particularly care for their special brand of customer disservice, but rather because they simply do have the lowest prices. I often wonder why the customer service is so terrible. I know that they pay a pittance for wages, so perhaps that is the reason. Maybe it is because they just have to work so darn hard, after all that will wear you out. As I ponder I am perplexed because Chick-fil-a doesn’t pay particularly great wages and the employees there work very hard, yet every single customer experience is amazing. Then what could it be? The florescent lighting? Standing all day on the hard tile floors? Today I realized that it all boils down to one thing,
As I made my way through the grocery section I watched as three managers approached. Certain that they would stop or slow down so that I could continue on my way, I did just that. I was amazed. Not only did they not slow down, but they all walked directly in front of me, one of them nearly running into my cart. I stopped and allowed them to pass in front of me with their large cart that one of them was pushing. I was sure that someone would say excuse me, but nothing. I was so shocked that I just stood there. I didn’t really know what to do. I decided that I would speak to the managers about it.

As I approached the managers, I realized that it wasn’t just department managers or assistants, but the General Manager , and two Co-Managers. Now I was really upset. I asked them if I could bring something to their attention. They seemed annoyed, but said I could. I explained to them that the only thing that kept me coming back to WalMart was the prices and that I was considering shopping elsewhere after something that I saw today in their store. Now I had their attention and they seemed concerned. I explained that every time I shop in their store that the employees never seemed to be happy to be there and that they were almost never helpful or courteous. They were very interested now. I told them that I discovered why the employees treated their customers that way. One of them asked, “well sir what happened today?” I explained to them that the three of them had just cut me off and almost run over me and that they didn’t even bother to say excuse me or to even acknowledge that anything had happened. I told them that I understand why the employees don’t respect their customers. It’s because the management team doesn’t respect their customers. One of them said that he was sorry and they the didn’t see me. I explained to them how that was the problem. They were so busy doing other things that they didn’t pay attention to the customer. The GM hung his head in shame and thanked me for bringing it to their attention.

The one reason that WalMart employees don’t respect their customers is that their leadership doesn’t. For those of us who work with customers, they pay our pay checks so they are the top priority. For those of us in a leadership role, we have to remember that our employees will only follow our example. If we don’t take care of the customer, then our employees won’t either.

There’s a quarry in my belly!

diamondsHello everyone. It’s me again. I am so happy to be back. I have been away due to a number of reasons. The biggest being a kidney stone, which I am pretty sure is a fate worse than death (never been dead and don’t know for sure). But here I am, two months, two trips to the emergency room, three doctor visits, a few thousand Percocets (grossly exaggerated as a literary device) and one minor surgery later.  I haven’t been able to go without researching where the little stony creatures come from and how exactly to avoid them in the future. And while there are some people in this world that I may not care for, there are none that I hate enough to wish upon them a kidney stone (and I’m not just saying that). So here it is, the definitive guide to avoiding a kidney stone for you and my enemies.

Before you can understand exactly how to avoid kidney stones, you have to know what a kidney stone is. As defined by The National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse, a kidney stone is a hard mass developed from crystals that separate from the urine within the urinary tract. They are considered to be one of the most painful urological disorders and amazingly but not surprisingly has been plaguing humanity for thousands of years, being found in an ancient Egyptian mummy.

Normally, urine contains chemicals that prevent or inhibit the crystals from forming. These inhibitors do not seem to work for everyone, however, so some people form stones. If the crystals remain tiny enough, they will travel through the urinary tract and pass out of the body in the urine without being noticed. But there are times when these stones do not pass on their own and they continue to build. When this happens it sometimes requires doctor intervention which unlike days of yore is not very invasive and is generally done on an outpatient basis.

A less common type of stone is caused by infection in the urinary tract. This type of stone is called a struvite or infection stone. Another type of stone, uric acid stones, are a bit less common, and cystine stones are rare.

Any of this sound like fun? Ok, let’s examine how to help keep from having to go though this terrible experience. Keep in mind that these are just some tips are are not designed to be medical advice. You need to discuss your options including your diet and lifestyle with your doctor.

Tip #1 To Avoid Kidney Stones, drink water.

Things you can do to avoid kidney stones include drinking water. Your body needs enough fluid to remove waste from your body. If your body doesn’t have enough water you will start to collect pieces of waste in your kidneys and this turns into kidney stones. You should drink enough fluids to make 2 liters or urine per day. Doctors have recommended drinking 8 eight ounce glasses of water a day or adding at least four 8 ounce glasses of water to whatever you are already drinking. Coffee and soda do not count, you need water to remove the impurities from your system.

Tip #2 To Avoid Kidney Stones, increase fiber and decrease protein in your diet.
Eating a diet high fiber and low in protein helps to avoid kidney stones. People with diets high in protein and low in fiber run an increased risk of kidney stones. Uric acid stones are produced if your diet is too rich in protein. You shouldn’t eat more than two servings of meat a day if your body forms kidney stones. A serving should be no more than six to eight ounces. Uric acid type kidney stones are produced when there is too much acid in the urine. Uric acid type kidney stones also can be formed if you are on chemotherapy. When your body decomposes red meats a substance is produced that ends up in your urine.

Tip #3 To Avoid Kidney Stones, decrease the amount of calcium in your diet.
Decreasing the amounts of Calcium you are eating can also help avoid kidney stones. For most people one to two servings of dairy products are okay, even if their body produces calcium based kidney stones.

Tip #4 To Avoid Kidney Stones, decrease sodium intake.
Decreasing your sodium intake also reduces your risk of kidney stones. You should limit your intake of sodium to below 1,500mg daily. Limiting your sodium intake means not only not adding salt to your foods. Limiting sodium from your diet means you read labels and do not eat foods high in sodium. Just because you don’t add salt to everything doesn’t mean that you don’t have a lot of sodium in your diet.

Tip #5 To Avoid Kidney Stones, be active.

Being active will also help to avoid stones. People who are bedridden have an increased risk of kidney stones. Being physically active is good for your overall health. If you are unable to regularly exercise you should still get up and move around on a regular basis. If you lead a sedentary lifestyle you are at risk for kidney stones.

Tip #6 To Avoid Kidney Stones, avoid cranberries.
I know, you are told if you have bladder infections cranberries are the cure-all. If you produce kidney stones cranberries can actually cause you more trouble. Avoiding cranberries and avoiding eating large quantities of tree nuts can help you to avoid kidney stones.

Tip #7 To Avoid Kidney Stones, increase citric acid/vitamin C in your diet.
Increasing the amount of citrus you eat helps your body to dissolve kidney stones. You can do this in many ways, one of the easiest is to add a small amount of lemon to your water that you are drinking. You can also add fresh citrus fruits to your diet along with adding bell peppers and canned mandarin oranges. Fruit juice also helps, just remember if you are trying to avoid kidney stones you probably don’t want the calcium fortified juices.

Tip #8 To Avoid Kidney Stones, listen to your body.
The best tip I can give you is to listen to your body. If you end up feeling sicker after certain foods you should probably avoid them. If you find that drinking a certain amount of fluids is best for you go with it. You can tell when your body is feeling its best.

Most importantly, follow your doctor’s advice. Ask questions. And trust your own judgment (unless you have been proven to not know what you are doing, in that case trust your doctor).

Want to know more? Here are some links you can follow for all the latest:

The National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse

WebMD

Looking behind us . . . the history of the rear view mirror

rvmirrorWhile I was waiting for my lunch yesterday at a popular country eatery with a store in front I found a nifty pair of sunglasses with built in rear view mirrors. What an interesting concept. Now with the way that my brain works, I couldn’t help but wonder how the concept of the rear view mirror came to be. Who was the amazing person who created such a simple concept that is so very useful? So I did some digging and here is what I found.

The earliest recorded use of any device that resembles a rear view mirror was in 1911 in raycarthe inaugural race of the Indianapolis 500, by Ray Harroun in his Marmon racecar. He mounted a mirror on one of the struts so that he could see behind him. This wasn’t as much a safety feature as it was to lighten the load. As was the custom of the day, a mechanic would ride along with the driver to among other things watch behind to see the position of the other racers. Harroun didn’t take the credit for himself though. He claimed that he had seen a similar mirror mounted on a horse drawn carriage in 1904.

While Harroun’s car was the first record of a mirror mounted on a motor vehicle, the first recorded mention of a mirror to look behind you while in a vehicle dates back to 1906 by author Dorothy Levitt in in her book The Woman and the Car which noted that women should “carry a little hand-mirror in a convenient place when driving” so they may “hold the mirror aloft from time to time in order to see behind while driving in traffic”, thereby inventing the rear view mirror before it was introduced by manufacturers in 1914 by Elmer Berger, the man usually credited with its invention.

No matter where it gets it’s origin, it is rather amazing that a small peice of reflective glass can allow us to look behind us and know what surrounds us. As simple an idea as it is, I wish I had thought of it.

Give me a black eye . . . pea that is.

So, it’s New Years Day. 2009 is here and 2008 is now the past. Hopefully you have had your greens for money and your black eye peas for luck. Not sure if this really works or not, but eating black eye peas for New Years is a tradition as old as Egyptian times.

bepeas2Interestingly, the belief that black-eyed peas are a symbol of good luck in the New Year originates in the Babylonian Talmud from the early centuries AD.  A Talmud is a compilation of rabbinical discussions outlining Jewish law.  There is evidence that Jewish immigrants to the American south were another source of proliferation of the black-eyed pea.

Also, let’s not forget the Union soilders. It was not uncommon for Union soldiers, after conquering an area of land, to destroy or steal the crops.  The Yanks however, considered common beans, peas and corn inferior products, suitable only for animal fodder.  Subsequently, these items were often sparred .  This oversight, in addition to helping sustain the southern population, allowed for the continued popularity of black-eyed peas. Many believed it “lucky” that these field peas or black eye peas were left behind, seeing it was about the only thing.

So make sure you eat your black eye peas for luck this year. If you don’t believe in that eat them anyway, if for no other reason because they sure are yummy.

Men can suffer from Postpartum Depression too.

depressedIt is a little know fact that new dads can suffer from Postpartum Depression, that is until recently. James F. Paulson, PhD, of the Center for Pediatric Research at the Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, VA recently spoke to WebMD about their recent research which says that 2 out of every 1000 new dads meet criteria that meets the standards for moderate to sever Postpartum Depression. The study also shows that new fathers have a 3-5% higher chance of being depressed than the general population.

There is even more shocking news, according to Paulson.

“What we found,” Paulson says, “is that both moms and dads who were depressed were significantly less likely to engage in interactions such as reading, telling stories, and singing songs to their infants.”

But only the dads’ behavior significantly affected their child’s development at 24 months — “specifically in terms of how many words the child used,” Paulson says.

“If their dads were depressed and didn’t read to them, the infants had a much smaller vocabulary,” he says. And according to Paulson, there was no noticeable link between postpartum moms and their children’s vocabulary at 24 months.

For more information, please read the article at WebMD. If you think you are suffering from depression after the birth of a child or if you just want to know even more, visit The Postpartum Dads Project (full disclosure: My wife’s site), Postpartum Men.

For insight into the life of a new father dealing with depression, please visit my other blog, Diary of  Real Man.