Monthly Archives: August 2008

Totally Skewed: Truth in Packaging



Warning: Rant alert




I’m asking for a new consumer protection law; let’s call it the “Truth in Packaging Law.” And I’d like to see it enforced right away, beginning with staple food items—like potato chips. If I’m going to pay $3.99 for a bag of fried spuds, then I don’t want to discover that the contents of my “family size” package won’t feed even one mildly hungry preteen.


The more food prices have risen, the less I seem to find inside my cereal boxes, too. Didn’t the standard size cereal box used to hold 14 or 15 ounces? My Special K has 13.5 ounces, now. And it comes in a box that could probably hold at least 30% more. Ditto for my wheat crackers.


As a test, I pulled all three of these items, unopened, from my kitchen pantry. Then I emptied the containers into either gallon or quart size Ziplock bags. The photos below include ALL of the food volume from these packages.




A full box of cereal looks like this when transferred to a Ziplock bag.



A full box of crackers looks like this when transferred to a quart-size Ziplock bag.




A full bag of potato chips looks like this when transferred to a quart-size Ziplock bag.


And my cat looked like this when I was taking all these photos.



Yes, we need passage of the Truth in Packaging Law. But I’m thinking this law would have to exempt women’s undergarments. I’d hate to be restricted from deceptively “displaying my goods” in a push-up bra!




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Totally Skewed: Denim Dinosaurs Found at Back-to-School Sale

Despite having no children who are students, I love back to school time. In fact, I wait all year for August to roll around. That’s when I stock up on spiral notebooks that normally sell for a dollar or more but can be purchased for ten cents during “back-to-school wars.”

You probably thought I wrote in those leather-bound journals, didn’t you? Come on. You can’t put drivel like this in nice diaries like that! Nope. I use the plain, old-fashioned spiral notebooks. But I steer clear of the licensed print ones because I’d look even more immature than I do now if I were to carry a Barbie journal.

Other school items appear on my purchase list too. Highlighters and three-ring binders get carted home by the dozens. I use the binders to store all of my newspaper clips, just in case anyone in my family should one day—maybe after I’m dead and planted in a pauper’s grave—want to finally read them. That is, before they auction them off for pennies on eBay. (It’s entirely possible that my heirs could receive more for my work than I did.) 

Along with my office supply boon each fall, I also experience savings on uniforms. My standard dress is the same as most students’: blue jeans, T-shirts and athletic shoes. Oh, okay, I’ll admit that’s not my usual attire. But you don’t expect me to tell you that I’m naked when I write my blog posts, now do you? Well, I’m just saying. . .

Anyway, I’ve been encouraging my husband to get new dungarees during back-to-school sales. Jeans prices will never be lower than they are in late summer. So at my advice, he ventured out with me to a mall. And that’s when we discovered he’d become a denim dinosaur.

After trying on several pairs of pants that made him look like he was ready to either rap, smuggle dope or hold up a convenience store, he shot out of the dressing room, disgusted.

“Do you have the regular fit Levi’s,” he asked a male clerk. “I don’t want boot cut or baggy-fit or any of that. Just the straight-leg, regular jeans.”

“Oh, you mean these,” said the twenty-something menswear rep. He pointed to a table stacked high with layers of folded pants. “You need the five-o-fives.”

My spouse was again in and out of the dressing room faster than I can sprint past couture wear. “What’s wrong, now?” I asked.

He held up the jeans and pointed to the fly.

“What?” I huffed, failing to see the problem.

“They BUTTON up the front! There’s no zipper. I’d pee myself before I’d ever get these open,” he protested.

“It’s really hard,” I explained to the store clerk, “to find appropriate cuts when you’re our age. Don’t you have any blue jeans for . . . you know . . . grown ups?”

The young man nodded. “Yeah,” he said. “This is pretty much all we have, right now. It’s either this or, you know, the AARP catalog.”

Won’t it be nice when all the college students return to school?

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Totally Skewed: Rent a designer purse?

The Latest Fashion Trend: Rent a Designer Purse?


I keep reading about women who are so concerned with fashion and appearing wealthy that they’re renting designer handbags. Notice that I said RENT, not purchase! And here I always thought that those rental center places were just for people who can’t afford the basics. In my world, a $1,600 purse is not only a nonessential item but quite possibly a health hazard.

I must admit that the concept of renting what you have too much of to someone who can’t afford similar goods is a sound one. In fact, I believe this is how car leasing originated.

Anyway, I checked my closet and found several purses that I own but seldom use. So I thought, Why not rent these darlings and make some extra income? If you’re interested in leasing one of my handbags, please let me know. The photos and prices appear below:



It’s never too soon to think about the holidays. Nothing says Christmas like this Santa satchel made of 100% polar fleece! A real party conversation piece. Rent it today for just $5/month!




For the more conservative, this black and red wool number provides the perfect accent to anyone’s wardrobe—and it does double-duty as a fun handbag for lumberjack theme parties! It can be yours (or at least look like it is) for a mere $8/month!



Have a chic soiree to attend? How about this tiny black silk evening bag? The genuine rhinestone embellishments are sure to make you the talk of the town.  Lease it today for just $7/month.



Want to look like you’ve been on a luxury vacation? How about this festive hand-painted canvas bag? Purple letters near the top form the words “Cabo San Lucas.”  This flashy yet durable party purse is made of 100% water-resistant fabric (a real plus when spilling your drink). Rent it today for only $5/month!



Want others to think you’re a globe traveler? Nothing screams “safari” like this all-purpose travel tote with an attached camera compartment. This functional accessory is great for excursions—or just looking like you’ve been on one! Rent it today for the incredibly low price of $4/month!



This end-of-season special is made of lime green painted straw and is the perfect companion when shopping for produce—especially lemons and limes. A purse that is sure to lighten even the sourest of moods! Lease it today for only $3/month! A real bargain!



Can’t decide which handbag is right for you? Rent them all for a mere $25/month! That’s a $7 savings! With that $7, you might even lease a designer cell phone case!




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Totally Skewed: Luxury laundry appliances


My seven-year-old washing machine went kaput. So I found myself inside a home improvement center, staring helplessly, which is how I typically appear in these mega-stores. Apparently, while I hadn’t been paying close attention, washing machines had grown more sophisticated. When I’d made my last purchase, there’d been no more than a half dozen manufacturers’ models—ranging from bachelor- to Brady Bunch-capacity levels—to choose from.  No complex analysis had been required.

Back then, dryers came in two versions: electric and gas. And it really didn’t make much difference which one you selected. Similar to a choice between being struck in the head with a bowling ball or a brick, you could pretty much bet that, when it came to shelling out dough for the utility bills, either one was going to hurt. 

But given all the new innovations in laundry technology, now when I shop I’m confronted with rows and rows of metal boxes—some of which look like they’ve been snatched right out of a commercial Laundromat.

It seems that the laundry room, that last bastion of simplicity, has been mucked up by someone who thought consumers needed more cleaning options. So today we have machines in designer colors with special coatings, washers and dryers with auto-like features that include tinted windows. Before you know it, these appliances will be offered with built-in satellite radio tuners and cup holders.

I can’t fathom the reasoning. Why would tinted glass be beneficial? Does underwear require that much privacy? Do I really need to see what’s going on inside my washer and dryer? Sure, socks are prone to disappear in the wash, but who wants to monitor the process that closely? Given the chance, footwear will mate with sheet pockets regardless of who’s watching.  

But I’ve gone off on a tangent to get to a point that I never quite intersected. So I’ll return to the store aisle.

There I was, gazing at one of those new-fangled top-loading washers, when a salesman approached.

“These puppies are really something,” the clerk said, giving the unit a slap with his hand. Then he patted the matching dryer and added, “And this will steam clean your clothes so that they come out looking per-fect.”

I glanced at the price tag that, I swear to Clorox, included a comma.

“This washer will spin your clothes so fast they’ll need a lot less time to dry,” the appliance guy said.

“Oh, I have my own method for that,” I replied. “I usually forget the wash overnight. And by the next morning, the clothes are already half-dry!”

He gave me a puzzled look. “But these dryers are more energy efficient than the older models. And there’s this pedestal that you can put them on, too, so you don’t have to bend over so far to load them.”

“Seems like they could have just made them the right height to begin with,” I observed.

The salesman said he had to answer a call.

By the time he’d returned, I’d made my decision. “I’ll take this top-load pair,” I said, pointing to a standard variety washing machine.

“Oh, these are more energy efficient than the older ones, also,” admitted the eager dealmaker. “It’s just that they’re not as efficient as those over there.” He motioned toward the equipment that sported the price tags with commas.

If I hadn’t felt so bad for the guy I might have pointed out that the most energy efficient clothes dryer wasn’t even in his department. It was on the rope aisle, and it sold for less than $20. In my parents’ day, it was called a clothesline.


Coming soon! Deedee Divine’s Totally Skewed Guide to Life


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Totally Skewed: The Hundred Dollar Store

Today’s AOL home page contains a link to a story about retailers’ nicknames, none of which surprised me because I’d heard them all before. I couldn’t help but laugh again at the one for Costco: “The Hundred-Dollar Store.” That is SO right! The day I get out of there with less than $100’s worth of merchandise is the day I’ve been struck by a forklift.


My nickname for Costco is “Lostco” —because I can NEVER find my husband after we’ve entered that store!


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Totally Skewed: Golf Carts Take to the Streets?


In current news stories—to which I will provide links at the bottom of this post—it has been reported that electric golf carts are now being legally driven on city streets in Wisconsin. This, I believe, is the direct result of a population suffering from insufficient exposure to sunlight. Shortages of vitamin D must contribute to crazy ideas. Either that or someone should check the cheese.


Before I’d EVER risk steering my way across town on a golf cart I’d have to be stranded from all other forms of transportation, seriously injured, and seeking immediate death.


It’s your gas or your life, folks. What are you thinking? Come on! This recession isn’t THAT bad!


Here are the links I promised:


And here’s a link to my website:



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Totally Skewed: My Electric Bill

How to read an electric bill


We stood there, cautiously eyeing the envelope as though it might contain Anthrax.  “You open it,” I said to my husband. 

“No.  You do it.”

“How bad can it be?  We’ve hardly been home for the past several weeks.”

“Okay,” he said, I’ll open it.  He squeezed his eyes tight and counted. “One. Two. Three.  One, two, three.  One-two-three!”  R-r-r-i-p. 

The sealed threat now loosed, Hubby glanced down at the amount due and lapsed catatonic. I waived my hands in front of his face.  No response.  “Hon?”

The paper slipped from his hands and fell to the countertop.  I lifted it and read: Amount due: $697.67. 

This couldn’t be our electric bill!

Perhaps our cat had thrown wild parties while we were out of town.  I glared at Miss Kitty. “Exactly how many friends do you have?” I scolded.

The meter reading had to have been wrong.  “How often do you actually read these things?” I asked a company rep by phone.  She said my power usage was audited hourly from an undisclosed location, sort of like the Nielsen TV ratings.

Apparently, my old electric monitoring device had been replaced with a “smart meter.”  And this high-tech gizmo is so intelligent that it’s capable of outrunning every attempt I’ve made to slow it down.  Clearly, it must not even stop for power outages.

I moved on to my next plan of attack.  “How much have your rates gone up?” I huffed.

“Our rates haven’t changed,” said the customer service rep.  “There’s been an increase in the cost of natural gas to provide the power, and that power adjustment cost is passed straight through to the consumer.” 

I wasn’t moving any closer to a lower bill. 

No one should have electric fees the size of mine unless his or her last name is Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, or Cowell (as in Simon).  This wasn’t a utility charge.  It was a substitute for a tropical vacation, or holiday gifts for my entire family (minus me), or my spouse’s wardrobe budget—for the next decade.

I checked my electric statement, again, attempting to decipher the so-called “energy charge.”  In small print, nowhere near the amount due column, I found a string of numbers preceded by a decimal point (.0526210, to be exact).  As best I could tell, after I’ve paid my bill, this is the amount of money I should have left over.

Next to the obscure percentage were either acronyms or words in Russian.  I wasn’t sure.  

Later on, I discovered that PCRF stands for Power Cost Recovery Factor.  This is the amount of extra money I have to pay the utility company to help offset their rising cost of natural gas.  Well, how do I get a power cost recovery factor added to my wages?  On second thought, that would price my work right out of the market—assuming there is a market for this stuff. 

It seems I’ll just have to make our home more energy efficient. Already I’m following most standard conservation advice.  There’s little left to do, short of tearing down the house and starting over with new construction—ideally the earth-sheltered kind. 

Maybe I should replace all our exterior windows with Hardiplank.  Or I could install one of those wind turbine generators in my backyard.  Hey, it couldn’t look any more unsightly than a cell tower.


I’ve got to do something because I can’t afford to have utility bills that turn my mate into a mental zombie. (That battle already is being lost to televised sports.) And there’s no way we can simultaneously pay for electricity and psychotherapy.  It’s time for a full revolt.

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