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Brainwashing of the Innocent and Naive

If you are not following Insane in the Mom-Brain on Facebook, stop right now and go over to Facebook and follow her. While you are there, read her latest post about the church she went to as a child. I’ll wait.

Welcome back. Now I’ll tell you my story.

When I was a little kid, we were dropped off for Sunday School every week so mom could go back home and sleep off her hangover. Then she went to a Billy Graham Crusade (if you remember them, say Hallelujah!) and got all saintly and shit. From then on we had to go to church on Sunday morning, evening, and Wednesday night. That church didn’t suck too bad, except for the obligatory church summer camp that had none of the good stuff of a real summer camp, except I did get to make a macaroni necklace once. That’s when I discovered that raw pasta is nice and crunchy. Of course, years later I found out it’s not really good for you, but by then I could afford to buy my own potato chips.

I was so afraid of committing The Unforgivable Sin, because I didn’t know what it was, so there was a chance I could do it accidentally and end up in Hell, which WASN’T REALLY MY FAULT if nobody told me, right? That’s when I decided God was just as big an asshole as my stepfather, without all the actual abuse.

And then someone said The Unforgivable Sin was blasphemy, and I wasn’t sure if that was swearing, or if it was something worse because again NOBODY EXPLAINED EXACTLY WHAT IT WAS. It’s kind of like going to a foreign country, breaking one of their stupid laws, and ending up in prison for the rest of your life, which could have avoided it if someone would have just told you it’s a crime to eat cheese on Sunday.

I was also afraid of being possessed by a demon, but then I saw the Exorcist, which convinced me that only Catholics get possessed, so that calmed me down a bit.

When I was 13, we moved (in a very stealthy way so our Dad didn’t know where we went, but that’s a whole ‘nother story of abuse) and Mom started dragging us to a Pentecostal church just as crazy as the one she describes. People would shout “Amen” and “Hallelujah” and all kinds of stuff while the preacher would be speaking so passionately they’d be spitting all over the damn place, and by the end of the service, had practically no voice at all. There was dancing and screaming, speaking in tongues, and laying on of hands. And lots of prayer. Loud praying. Totally freaky shit.

I tried to fit in. I really did. But I just couldn’t take it all too seriously. Probably why I was sent away for awhile to join my Aunt & Uncle at their Moonie-light church. Mom must have thought they could strip me of the last of my stubborn self-identity. It didn’t work. At least there I got to play the tambourine, which if anyone asks is the extent of my musical talent.

Back home again, I eventually called bullshit enough times that I noped out of the whole thing entirely.

Thankfully, I was able to escape with minimal psychological scarring that only took several years and many hundreds of dollars of therapy to resolve. I’ve found my own small tribe of church refugees, and we’re doing just fine. Or going to Hell. I guess we’ll find out in the end.

We are all doomed

In an attempt to encourage/coerce/beg people to just give up and get vaccinated, pretty please, UCHealth linked to this article in the newsletter they sent me today.Delta variant

First, I must say I’m absolutely stunned that only 52% of Coloradoans are fully vaccinated. Being a very left-leaning, becoming more blue every day, let’s-be-another-California state, I thought the percentage would be much higher.

Although the title of the aforementioned article sounds positive, it’s filled with gloom and doom because they really, really want everyone to get vaccinated, and can’t keep doing million dollar giveaways forever:
If you’re older than 12 and haven’t been vaccinated, buckle up: The Delta variant is sweeping the planet. It is roughly 50% more contagious than the Alpha variant, which itself was roughly 50% more contagious than the “original” coronavirus strains. Multiply that out and we face a variant that spreads more than twice as easily as the coronavirus that burned around the world a year ago. To extend a baseball analogy, if the original coronavirus threw a 100 mph fastball, Alpha hits 150 mph and Delta 225 mph. That sort of competitive advantage is overwhelming.

So, here’s the skinny: Either get vaccinated, or when this virus reaches Gamma level, we’ll all be dead and the planet will be nothing but scorched earth.


Jello Salad is an Oxymoron

Screenshot of Jello Book adI cook nearly every day, so I regularly browse recipes online, looking for inspiration to change up our menu. Since I also like “Free”, I’m in a Facebook group where people post links to free Kindle books. Today, those two interests combined with a free kindle Jello cookbook. I’m surprised anyone eats Jello on purpose, and more so that someone thought there was a demand for a Jello cookbook. But, there it is.

The title, “Jello Salads 250: Enjoy 250 days with amazing jello salad recipes…” is pretty ambitious. Could anyone possibly enjoy 250 days of nonstop jello salad? Are there any jello salads that anyone would, with a straight face, call “amazing?” Then there’s the sales pitch: “If you’re living a sedentary or inactive lifestyle, this book might INSPIRE you to eat more Jello Salad Recipes!” Talk about target marketing. This book is for sedentary/inactive people who need inspiration to eat more Jello. Can’t get more niche than that.

I remember Jello salads. Mom especially loved putting cottage cheese and pineapple in jello, which IMO (and the opinions of everyone else around the table), looked like it had already been eaten once, and then remolded when the unfortunate diner couldn’t keep it down. She also loved a spam/jello monstrosity, and one fateful meal included tomato aspic. The memory still makes me gag.

My first after-school job was waitressing at a Walgreens Grill where we served a bunch of jello. At the end of the week, any Jello still hanging around was nearing the rubber level of a Knox Blox (remember those?) and got dumped into a tub, mixed with the leftover strawberry pie, both the crust and filling, spooned into a parfait glass and finished off with that fake restaurant whipped topping that doesn’t melt. People LOVED it for some very strange reason I still don’t understand. We always sold out.

Just like drivers who slow down to rubberneck a gnarly accident, I did end up downloading the book. Free is free. Flipping through the recipes left me shocked, horrified, and surprised that someone could come up with 250 variations of things to entomb in jello. If anybody actually pays real money for this book, I will truly be amazed.

NOTE: This blog is being updated to a new domain. When you return (if you return), the new domain is Hope to see you there.

Illegal to sell coupons? No!

When doing a search on eBay today, I noticed a bunch of coupons for sale. Huh, I thought. Is that legal? Like most people, I have heard that selling coupons is illegal. Spoke to Husband about it, and he said that’s what he thought. So, I decided to do some research. The results were quite interesting.

A search of “illegal to sell coupons” on Google returned about 6,700,000 results. After clicking on all the results of the first 10 pages, I discovered that all those sites included that statement. Many were adamant about the legality of such practices. None named a legal statute. Could we all be misled on this topic?

I then went to the website for the Federal Trade Commission. If anyone would know the answer, it would happen to be them, right? The same search on their site returned a bunch of results, but here the tone was completely different. In fact, I was directed to a publication that puts “coupon fraud” in an entirely new light. The publication: Costly Coupon Scams, describes what is illegal in the coupon realm.

The first two paragraphs tell the story:
Cents-off coupons are providing big bucks for scam artists who offer business opportunity and work-at-home schemes featuring coupon certificate booklets and coupon clipping services. Using the Internet to market these so-called opportunities, fraudulent promoters are promising entrepreneurs, charity groups and consumers earnings of “hundreds per week” and “thousands per month” simply by selling coupon certificate booklets or cutting coupons at home. The fact is that consumers and manufacturers are getting clipped in these costly – and deceptive-coupon capers.
There’s only one legitimate way to use a coupon: Cut it out of the newspaper or other source and use it toward the purchase of the designated product. A coupon is meant to be used only by the consumer who buys the product for which the coupon is printed. Selling or transferring coupons to a third party violates most manufacturers’ coupon redemption policies – and usually voids the coupon.

Nowhere in the publication does it say that selling coupons is illegal – just that it “usually voids the coupon.”

Further down the page, in a section titled “Coupon Clipping Scam” is some more interesting info:
A related scam centers on coupon clipping. Promoters make overblown promises about the income or profit potential for consumers working at home clipping coupons. These claims certainly sound appealing, but they are unsubstantiated at best and bold lies at worst. Making money – particularly “hundreds per week” and “thousands per month” – isn’t that easy. Success generally requires hard work.
Sometimes, fraudulent promoters use coupons clipped by consumers to fill orders from other consumers who redeem the coupon certificates. Many manufacturers have policies that do not allow coupons to be transferred. That is, the coupons that are being sold may not be redeemed by the retailer or manufacturer.

Again, they don’t say that it is illegal to sell or transfer coupons – just that “The coupons that are being sold may not be redeemed….”

Perhaps I’m wrong, but wouldn’t it make sense, if selling coupons were truly illegal, that the FTC would say so?

My guess is that this is an urban legend, started by manufacturers and coupon issuers, as a way to protect their marketing research. When they publish coupons, and the coupons are redeemed, they track the effectiveness of that promotion in a variety of ways. They track the stores that redeem them, the cities where redeemed, etc. When people exchange coupons, it messes up their results. They don’t know if the coupons redeemed in one city were as a result of being published in that city, or it they should attribute the redemption to another city of publication.

The CIC (Coupon Information Corporation) is a nonprofit association of consumer product manufacturers dedicated to fighting coupon misredemption and fraud. They proudly announce on their home page: The CIC and its members have worked with federal, state, and local law enforcement officials on every significant coupon fraud case since the CIC began operations in 1986.

On their FAQ page, they have 2 items I found interesting:

Can I sell my extra coupons?
No, there is no legitimate way to sell your unwanted coupons.The sale or transfer of coupons is a violation of virtually all manufacturers’ coupon redemption policies. These policies are generally printed on the coupons or is available from the manufacturer upon request. The sale or transfer voids the coupon.
Persons purchasing coupons have often been associated with organized criminal activities. They often purchase the coupons as one aspect of a scheme to defraud the coupon issuers/manufacturers, usually by seeking to redeem coupons without purchasing any products. Individuals selling coupons to such crime rings have been charged with and convicted of criminal violations.

Can I buy coupons?
No, there are good reasons not to purchase coupons. In addition to being in violation of the manufacturers’ policies, it simply does not make sense to pay for something that is given away for free.
Coupons being sold on the Internet or by other means may be stolen property or counterfeit. Individuals attempting to use these coupons may be subject to prosecution.

I noticed that they Did Not say that buying and selling coupons is illegal. They listed specific situations where it might be illegal – to defraud the issuer/manufacturer, or the selling of stolen or counterfeit property.

Let’s let this urban legend die. Coupons, in the hands of lawful consumers, are a great hedge against inflation and the rising prices on things we need and use. Putting more coupons in the hands of lawful consumers, who will use them as intended, makes good money sense. It helps the consumer, AND sells more of the manufacturer’s products, which is why they publish them in the first place.

By the way, I’m not an attorney, and this isn’t legal advice. Before you do anything you’re worried might be illegal, check with an attorney. When you do, make sure he knows the law, and doesn’t just spout “common knowledge.” In this case, “common knowledge” appears to be “common misunderstanding.”