Prowler or FedEx – Making Midnight Deliveries?

February 13, 2009

Last night at five til midnight, I was awakened startled, my internal alarm raised by my dogs who alerted me that someone was at my house.

My doorbell hasn’t rung, no knocks on the door have been heard (the dogs would have barked if there were) and no visitors were expected at this late hour, so at this point I really starting to panic.  Do I have a prowler?

My husband also alarmed leaps from the bed to glance out our second story window.  He discovers a FedEx truck in front of our house.

But by the time my husband got downstairs to the front door (still clad in his nightclothes), the driver was creeping down the street in his truck, leaving only an illegible door tag with the First Delivery Attempt box checked.

Delivery attempt?  How can that be an attempt, the driver never even knocked?  And who delivers to a residence at midnight?!

The driver didn’t knock because he knew it was wrong.  Heck even telemarketers aren’t allowed to call after 9 p.m.  What makes it okay to deliver packages at midnight? 

The door tag left was in rough shape.  It looked like someone had spilled some liquid on it and then air dried it.  The red ink was faded and smeared.

I had been expecting a package – a new computer that requires a signature.  In fact, I’ve been waiting all day for that package.  The tracking number had indicated it would be delivered that day, but before we went to bed at 10 p.m. we checked the tracking website and it said it hadn’t even been loaded on the truck and was still at the facility in Ashland, VA.

Thank goodness a signature was required or my computer would have been left sitting on my porch all night long.

Awake and very angry, we called the FedEx customer service line.  The call was less than helpful, but we learned three very interesting things.

First, we aren’t the only family complaining about late night deliveries.

Second, deliveries into the wee hours of the night are indeed a current business practice of FedEx.  Despite the fact that the website lists delivery times for residences as Tuesday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

And thirdly, FedEx contractors take their trucks home at night where the truck and its contents are parked in an unsecure location.  Makes you feel real good about the safety of your package, right?

But a half hour on the phone didn’t even get us an apology for the inconvenience.  I still didn’t have my computer, I got the wits scared out of my by our late night visitor and I’ve lost half a night’s sleep (who can get back to sleep after a scare like that). 

This morning we finally got in touch with the fleet manager at the Ashland facility and have finally got an apology and my computer delivered.  But the fact remains that these late night deliveries should not be allowed.

I checked with the local sheriff’s department and apparently there is no law preventing these late night deliveries.  But there should be!

I like to ask everyone to boycott FedEx, but you don’t always get a say in who delivers your package.  However, if you are sending packages, I ask you to ponder the safety and reliability of FedEx before using them.

And if you are the recipient of one of these late night visitors in an “attempted” delivery I ask that you do two things.  First contact your local police and complain.  If enough of us complain maybe they’ll put a stop to it.  Secondly, contact FedEX and let them know that deliveries to residences after 8 p.m. are unacceptable for the safety of our families!


TLC Would Like to Make Your Real Life, Real Simple

October 15, 2008

Think about your day so far – you had to get the kids up and off to school, you’ve got more deadlines than time at work, there are dishes and laundry piling up at home and let’s not even talk about what you are going to fix for dinner tonight.  You’re lucky you found a spare moment to read this article. 

Wouldn’t you like more time for your favorite hobby?  How about some time to do something fun with family and friends?  What would you be willing to do to get make your life simpler?

Well TLC has some answers for you and all you have to do is spend an hour relaxing in front on the television on Friday night. 

So pour yourself a glass of wine, put the kids to bed (or better yet send them to a friends or Grandma’s for a sleep over), curl up on the couch and turn the channel to TLC at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

Because this Friday TLC partners with Real Simple to premiere its brand new hour-long show – Real Simple. Real Life.  – that promises to find solutions to make life easier.

And who doesn’t want an easier life?  Count me in!

Think of the show as a realistic makeover for the average busy woman – or man.  Instead of promises of perfection, Real Simple.  Real Life. is offering simple solutions and tips for everyday folks.

People today have lives full of demands and expectations. I know my list of to dos start when I get up and is often still clogging up my list at the end of the day.

Real Simple. Real Life will help people like you and me identify the frustrations that zap our time and keep our plates full.  The show then offers personalized tips to end the chaos and give us back more fun time.

“Each week we’ll feature a comprehensive, 360-degree lifestyle makeover, using best-in-class experts in a variety of areas to help our real women identify with their day-to-day challenges, and offer realistic solutions and ‘aha’ tips to help them live an even better life.  Viewers at home will identify with these women and be impacted by the makeovers” Executive Producer Jude Weng said.  “We embrace the reality that it’s not about making the perfect meal or having the most organized closet; we’re working with them to make time-saving changes that will let them ad more of the fun ‘me’ time they’re craving back into their lives.”

Obviously the show’s target audience is women.  But these are issues that everyone deals with – men and women – anyone who runs a home, has a job, raises kids or keeps a busy schedule.  I know that my husband spends just as much time on the house and with the kids as I do (and sometimes more).  So these solutions are for everyone.

Expect solutions to cover everything from smart organization tips to ideas for quick and simple dinners to decoration ideas to fun ways to make entertaining easier.

The show will also include a website – realsimplereallife.com – to go into more detail on the solutions offered in the weekly show.  The show and its tips will also be featured in the monthly magazine Real Simple.

I know that I am always in a state of disorganization so I’m really looking forward to seeing what tips the show can offer to get me organized and give me more time to spend with my kids.

So I have reserved my seat on the couch for Friday night at 8 p.m. My bottle of wine is already chilling.  Let the help start.

What area do you need the most help?  What tip/solution did some give you that made your life easier?


Should Children’s Books Have a Rating System?

September 27, 2008

A recent article has me wondering if we should be taking a closer look at what we qualify as “children’s books.”

A recent article said that a bookstore in Shanghai is pulling the children’s book “Book of Bunny Suicides:  Little Fluffy Rabbits Who Just Don’t Want to Live Anymore’ after a rash of suicides by children and teens.

I had mixed emotions when I read this article.  In general, I’m against book banning.  Authors should be free to express their opinions.

And I don’t really believe that a normal, healthy kid read this book and then suddenly wanted to commit suicide.  I’m not even sure it even really gives a kid ideas for how to commit suicide since some of these illustrations are unrealistic — head in a DVD player for instance.

But what I am wondering is how this book got classified as a children’s book.  It’s definitely not age appropriate for young kids.

Suicide is a very sensitive subject that kids – and many adults, myself included – don’t entirely understand.  I can understand why there might be a book in the children’s section explaining to a child how to deal with it when a friend, family member or other loved one commits suicide.

But why would a book mocking suicide be considered a children’s book?  Because it has cute little bunnies in it?  If that’s the qualification, then we really need to look at how a book gets classified as a children’s book.

I recently read The Golden Compass.  When I went to buy the book, I found it in the children’s section.  Sure the story deals with the adventure of a little girl, but the book itself is a fantasy that deals with some pretty dark themes. 

While I wouldn’t call the book scary, I did have some very gloomy dreams when I read it.  And I wondered how it would affect a young reader.

After reading this book, I wouldn’t let my child read this book until they were well into their teens.  How did this book get classified in the children’s section?

So my question is do we need to be more diligently in accurately classifying books (i.e just because it had cute little bunnies in it doesn’t mean it’s meant for children) or do we need to take it a step further? Do we need a rating system (like we have for movies, video games, music) for children’s books?


How Safe is Your Bathroom?

February 19, 2008

As of mom of toddlers, I’m constantly thinking about safety.  I have safety gates on the stairs and special knobs on the door handles, but I never considered my bathroom as a hazard for me.

Bathroom safetyThe contents of our bathroom pose a threat to not only the children or pets in your house, but to you. 

Sure you know better than to eat your shampoo (I hope).  But even under regular use, the ingredients in our daily beauty regiment can be harmful. 

Scared by the rash of news stories that parade the potential hazards of your hygiene products and beauty aids?

The researchers at the Environmental Working Group have put together a database called Skin Deep to provide you reports on all your favorite personal care products.

You can search by product, ingredient or company and it will give a hazard rating, a list of ingredients and any potential hazards that those ingredients have been linked to.

So if you are worried about what’s in your bathroom cabinet, check out Skin Deep.

Photo courtesy of Skin Deep.


Do Men Drive Better than Women? Kids say so

June 7, 2007

A recent British study by Privilege Insurance revealed that kids prefer to ride with their dads because they think they are safer drivers — but not by much. 

Apparently British drivers aren’t any safer than Americans.  However, the bigger concern should be how many kids feel unsafe in the car.  A reported 47% felt unsafe while driving with their mother, while another 39% felt unsafe while driving with their father and 5% felt unsafe with both parents.  That’s a lot of kids feeling unsafe.

Personally, I didn’t think kids paid that close of attention to how their parents drove.  Guess I was wrong. 

I don’t remember feeling one way or another about my parents’ driving as a child.  Either I was a pretty unobservant kid (but judging by the number of questions I used to ask, I’d say that wasn’t the case) or times are changing.

I also wonder, do the kids really feel unsafe or are they reflecting what their parents say about each other’s driving?  If that’s the case, then I guess more fathers complain about their wives’ driving than vice versa.

So we should not only be careful about how we drive, but how we talk about our spouse’s driving because we are scaring the kids.


What would you be willing to do to keep your child safe?

May 29, 2007

The thought of my children being stolen or getting lost and then hurt absolutely terrorizes me.  In fact, as the mother of twin toddlers, I have not gone to places with my children alone just because I thought it might be too crowded for me to keep track of two little ones that could disappear quickly in a throng of people.  A British professor might have the answer to ease parents concerns — an implant.

Reading University Cybernetics Professor Kevin Warwick has developed an inch-long microchip that can be implanted in a child that can locate that child within a few meters.  Although the chip is not meant to track your child 24/7, it can be activated in an emergency to locate your child. 

Apparently Warwick’s chip was ready for testing in 2002, but his volunteer backed out after intense media scrutiny.  Since then Warwick has not proceeded with developing the implant nationally due to backlash over the ethicalness of the project.

But with an increase in children being snatched not just in public, but from their own homes, as was the case for Madeleine McCanne in Portugal, Warwick’s inbox is filling with requests from concerned parents wanting the implant for their children.

Would you be willing to implant your child if it could keep them safe?

I know that I couldn’t.  Heck, I can’t even implant my dog, or get him the tattoo, because I think it’s mean.  In fact, the whole idea of implants sounds too much like one of those sci fi movies where the government controls everyone’s moves.

Yes, I’m probably over-reacting, but I think I have some valid concerns.  If my children have implants for me to track them, what prevents the government or some other governing organization from tracking them too?  Or worse yet, what guarantee do I have that some sex offender won’t hack the system and use the implant to target my child?  Not to mention that I’m not eager to insert anything foreign into my child’s body that isn’t medically necessary.  The presence of the implant alone could trigger a medical condition in my children.

Don’t get me wrong, I want to protect my children.  I am very afraid that I’ll look away for a brief moment and my children will wander away and get hurt, or worse, someone will take them.  But I think I still have quite a few options towards protecting my children in public — taking another adult with me to crowded places, putting the children in a stroller/cart/wagon and simply holding hands.  At home, I rely on locked doors and windows and two very protective dogs.

However, I am not opposed to some less intrusive means of being able to locate my kids. 

When they are old enough, I plan for my children to have cell phones with GPS locators.  I am particularly impressed with Disney Mobile.

I am interested in something that I can use to track my children if they are lost or abducted, not to keep tabs on them 24/7.  Some companies are offering wristbands or clothing.  I like this idea better than implants because I can put them on my children when I head to a very crowded public place (i.e. theme park), but they don’t need to wear daily.

Globalpoint Technologies is now offering a wrist band called the Personal Companion that could be hidden under the child’s clothes.  Using a combination of GPS and mobile phone technology, the armband can be used to track your child within two meters.

Similarly, Connect Software is offering daycares the ToddlerTag in clothing.  The ToddlerTag uses active Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology to track a child.

It’s true that both of these devices, along with cell phones and other similar tools can be discarded by the abductor before they can be used to locate a child.  However, I still prefer these devices to an intrusive implant.  And who’s to say an abductor wouldn’t cut out the implant or worse to disable it.

I think all parents should be a little paranoid about the safety of their child.  Nevertheless, our children are still people and we must respect their rights.  Implants seem way too “big brother-ish” for my tastes.

I know that good parenting and common sense might not be enough to keep my child safe.  But at this time, I’m satisfied to rely on these skills instead of crossing an ethical line with my children.

However, I am interested in hearing what you as a parent think.  What lengths are you willing to go to to keep your child safe?