Archive | Anecdotes

Short posts regarding incidents or events from my life you might find interesting (and funny).

The radioactive nuclear waste known as ECOS Laundry Detergent by Earth Friendly Products (A Review)

I’m adding this post as a placeholder for those with sensitive skin who had the misfortune of purchasing ECOS Laundry Detergent or are thinking of trying this brand. I tend to have a reaction to fragrance-based detergents, but after a good experience with Seventh Generation’s scented detergents, I thought I would be in the clear as long as I used a product that was plant based and “natural,” so I gave ECOS a try as well, opting for the Magnolia and Lily version. I was also interested in Ecover Zero (a separate brand) but they’re not as ubiquitous as ECOS, so I wound going for the lather.

Biggest mistake of my life.

No to ECOS Laundry, Toxic, Allergic, Dangerous

Prior to ECOS, I had never used liquid fabric softener before, and this detergent had it mixed in, so I thought, cool, getting two for the price of one. I didn’t worry because it was supposedly coconut rather than synthetic based, and I like coconuts (especially coconut pancakes).

But because I have allergic contact dermatitis, I didn’t make the connection right away that I was developing a severe reaction to ECOS, in fact thinking it was a reaction to petting a dog instead. When it continued I finally realized it was the laundry detergent, promptly ditched the bottle, and re-washed my clothes using a dye/fragrance free alternative.

And yet it still wasn’t enough. I continued to have rashes from my clothes for a period of three weeks, bewildered that even after several washes there still remained ECOS residue that was causing rashes on my skin to no end. I couldn’t understand it, because the last few times I broke out as a result of contact with fragrance-based detergent, the rashes usually went away in a couple of days after a single wash of my contaminated clothes.

This was THREE weeks now with no relief. Not even an oatmeal bath helped. I contacted ECOS to see if they could offer any suggestions on what else I could do to remove the remaining residue left from their detergent off my clothes, and they completely blew me off and my customer support inquiries.

I am now convinced they are a scam company allegedly peddling cancerous products developed from nuclear waste while funding terrorist operations on the side just for funsies. Allegedly. It has been allegedly alleged. Mostly by me. But still, I wouldn’t be surprised if that was all true.

According to one insightful review on Amazon, the following ingredients gave me some clues as to what could have caused such a severe reaction:

Directly from the bottle: Water, Cocamidopropyl Betaine (coconut-based surfactant), Sodium Coco-Sulfate (coconut based surfactant), Cocamidopropylamine Oxide (coconut-based surfactant,) PHENOXYETHANOL (PRESERVATIVE) METHYLISOTHIAZOLINONE (PRESERVATIVE), Equisetum Hiemale (Horsetail Plant) Extract

The first ingredient is Cocamidopropyl Betaine: EWG Skin deep database concern of 4 out of 10

“About COCAMIDOPROPYL BETAINE: Cocamidopropyl betaine is a synthetic surfactant; it has been associated with irritation and allergic contact dermatitis, reactions that could be due to the ingredient itself or to impurities present in it, such as 3-dimethylaminopropylamine.”

“Other HIGH concerns: Contamination concerns; Other LOW concerns: Ecotoxicology”

PHENOXYETHANOL (PRESERVATIVE) EWG Skin deep database concern of 4 out of 10

Other HIGH concerns: Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Occupational hazards; Other MODERATE concerns: Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive); Other LOW concerns: Data gaps

METHYLISOTHIAZOLINONE (PRESERVATIVE) EWG Skin deep database concern of 5 out of 10

About METHYLISOTHIAZOLINONE: Methylisothiazolinone is a widely-used preservative; has been associated with allergic reactions. Lab studies on the brain cells of mammals also suggest that methylisothiazolinone may be neurotoxic.

Other HIGH concerns: Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs); Other LOW concerns: Ecotoxicology, Neurotoxicity

[For info see EWG Skin Deep database]

I think in my case there were a combination of additional factors that exacerbated the reaction:

  • I’ve been used to having soft water to wash my clothes, but after moving to a mountainous state I’ve been slowly learning how hard water can adversely impact so many things, including making it more difficult to remove excess residue from laundry detergents unless you soften it somehow.
  • This was also the first time I’ve had to deal with a detergent with a liquid fabric softener component. Apparently the oils are far more difficult to remove completely and require a lot more than just a single wash cycle. When I finally wised up to the possibility that the ECOS residue was STILL embedded in my clothes even after several washes, I took a much more aggressive approach and started doing additional wash cycles using baking soda and vinegar. It took almost 10 cycles of this before my clothes finally became wearable again. If that hadn’t worked I would have had no choice but to declare most of my wardrobe ruined and forced to spend hundreds on new clothes and bed sheets.

I strongly recommend anyone with sensitive skin (and even those who don’t) avoid Earth Friendly Products like the dark plague, even their “free and clear” version. Their complete and utter disinterest in customer satisfaction and lack of customer support/assistance to those who have an adverse reaction to using their products is unacceptable and disgraceful.

This was not the vortex I was looking for

When I hear the word vortex, the image that springs to mind is the Star Trekian type of vortex.  You know, a spinning funnel that hurtles your ship into a wormhole and sends you into the past/future/alternate universe.  A funsie kind of vortex, to which you can either undo mistakes of the past, see the wonders of the future, or settle into a mirror universe where red means go, green means stop, Elvis is still alive, and I’m an introverted millionaire living in a jewel encrusted cabin in Colorado with a sexy and God fearing Jessica Alba and our 32 kids.  Oh, and where such a thing as iOS 7 never happened.  And the Chicago Cubs won the World Series.

Ok, scratch that last one.  There is no universe in which that would ever happen.

So what kind of vortex does real life give me?  Well, this one:

Polar Vortex Map

I could really use some of that global warming right about now.

I realize there’s a certain sense of irony where I groan like an old woman about the snow we’re getting in downstate New York while dreaming of living under the special snowflakes of Colorado, but I think I know why.  Because of the humid climate here, the snow never… goes… away.  It doesn’t evaporate, it doesn’t melt, it stays, and stays, and stays, until we pour 5 million tons of salt and sand all over the roads just to rid us of some of it so the entire suburbanplex that is Long Island doesn’t grind to an apocalyptic halt.

In Colorado, the arid climate ensures that whatever snow does hit the ground doesn’t overstay its welcome, even when facing subzero temps.  And while the mountainous terrain has a tendency to draw extremes out of the weather, it’s balanced out by 300+ days of sunny weather out of the year.

Of course, having yet to be trapped in a serious storm during my frequent visits there, my perception of the weather is probably still a little rose colored.  Still, it’s telling how deep my antipathy for New York must be when I rail like an unhinged madman against the snow here, while in contrast I prance around in it like a jubilant 5 year old when I’m in Colorado.

A glimpse into the future where my life has gone to the dog?

While I was in Colorado I had an opportunity to visit Vallecito Alsatians and meet Bonnie Lee, a special dog that they are dedicating to being trained as a hearing dog.  I’ve known about her for a while but I wondered how she would react to meeting me for the first time, and whether we might truly be meant to be together as man and dog.

Here’s a video of her after we interacted for about an hour.  There’s no sound but I gave a couple of commands, namely to have her lick my hand and sit, which she responded to almost immediately.  I was hoping we would connect well, but I never expected this level of affection, sweetness and attention.

I haven’t had a dog in my life in over 13 years, and even then it was never MY dog.  But I always dreamed about having one some day, particularly a wolfish looking dog, where we’d live together in a cozy cabin deep in the mountains, watching her lazily sleep in front of a warm fire, while I sit back in my easy chair and enjoy a hot cup of morning coffee.  Snow drifts to and fro outside my window, and a kind of peace settles into my home, knowing everything is right with the world.  It was only a dream, but for a moment Bonnie made it a reality, and showed me that despite the odds I faced, anything really was possible.

It’ll be a year though before I’ll know for sure, which for me is a good thing because I definitely need that time to get my life in order and start learning how to properly care for a dog and keep it healthy and happy.  God only knows I have my work cut out for me.  O_O

Bonnie Lee - American Alsatian

Sweet Bonnie Lee takes a moment to relax.


What the government shutdown at the Grand Canyons looked like

Traffic cones at the Grand Canyons during government shutdown

This is what I saw as I passed through the Grand Canyons during the middle of the government shutdown.  There are lookout areas offering different vantage points in which to enjoy the views of the Canyons along a byway called Desert View Road, but they closed them off.  Why?  Shut up, that’s why.

These are not areas that require staff or buildings that need guides, maintenance, etc.  THIS IS SCENERY.  I can only hope we haven’t become so dumbed down as a nation to not recognize how contrived it is to shut down entryways to a wide open space out in the middle of a national park.  These are places that are opened 24 hours a day with or without the presence of park employees.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, they (and by they I mean Obama and his cronies who are pulling this crap) refused to even make an exception for WWII veterans to a similar park area, because, GOVERNMENTSHUTDOWN!!1111

They’re not doing it because they HAVE to do it.  They’re doing it out of malice, to maximize the hurt of a government shutdown as much as they can in order to score cheap political points against the Republicans.  Obama’s disdain isn’t merely with Republicans in Congress, but with the roughly 50% of the country who disagree with his policies.  God forbid that he should take their concerns into consideration and seek compromise.  Either he gets what he wants, when he wants it, or he throws a political temper tantrum at our expense.  He has shown himself not to be above literally hurting Americans so long as it makes Republicans look bad.  I wonder if there will finally be a time when the scales drop from the eyes of the voters who supported him and they see him for the narcissistic politician that he truly is.

Update:  More proof that the closures are a result of politics rather than actual necessity.  One park ranger reportedly fumed, “We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can. It’s disgusting.”

Burros in Oatman, Arizona while I briefly toured Route 66

Once I left Vegas I had a chance to quickly tour Route 66 from Kingman to Oatman, where Route 66 enthusiasts can treat themselves to a quasi-ghost town of burros and staged gunfights.  I wasn’t able to arrive in time for a gunfight, so I just followed the burros around trying to get an ideal shot.  I was actually surprised by how active they were, clopping here and there and never able to stand still long enough for me to get a good frame.

But sometimes, you get lucky.  I was about to leave when suddenly two burros snuck up behind me and then stood PERFECTLY in front of the sign for Oatman.  I frantically pulled out my camera and snapped off one shot JUST in time before they moved off again.

Burros stand in front of sign to Oatman, Arizona on Route 66

It’s early days yet, but this may turn out to be my favorite picture and memory of Route 66.

I hate Long Island Drivers (and Long Island)

So this morning I start my journey to Mordor, and no I’m not exaggerating when I say lately my commute is getting to be more and more like a Lord of the Rings quest.  It started with construction blocking three lanes of traffic on a major parkway, forcing me to get off and on the ramps in an attempt to bypass the gridlock, which I manage with some success.  Then maneuvering in and out of traffic because people here like to drive 30 miles an hour in the left lane while refusing to budge when somebody flashes their light as a signal that they want to pass.  Which by the way is why nobody here flashes their lights, since most of us throw our heads back in laughter and completely ignore it when we see some blissfully ignorant fool do it.  (For my part at least I always move to the side if I see somebody behind me looking like they just engaged a nitro boost.)

Anyhoo, I’m trying to get off the last parkway, and I’m stuck behind Grandma in the right lane who’s cruising at an easy 20 miles an hour, meanwhile the guy to my right in the exit lane is matching her speed, sees that I’m trying to get in… and refuses to let me pass.  Talk about a tight spot.

Austin Powers in a Tight Spot

So in order to avoid missing my exit, I SLAM on the brakes so I can get behind Mister Lincoln Navigator Who’s Too Awesome To Let People Through, then hit the gas again… only that’s when my car completely stalled, the display indicators suddenly lit up like a Christmas tree, and my life starts to flash before my eyes.  I can’t accelerate beyond 30 miles an hour now, so here I am limping onto a busy intersection with the car stuttering and thinking “Oh fud me rice balls, I hope I’m not going to have to get my car serviced, that’s the LAST thing I need right now.”  I managed to coast into a parking lot, shut the engine off and went inside a market to take a breather and grab some stuff for work, hoping when I came back the engine would be ok when I started it up again.  Thankfully it was.  Then, when I’m ready to back out, FOUR other cars decide to back out at the same time, meanwhile two more people driving fat as yo mamma’s SUVs plop their over-sized mass of metal right there, making it nearly impossible for any of us to move.  Do they shift in reverse to give us more space?  Of course not.

By that time I had lost any modicum of decorum and leaned on the horn for the rest of the way to work.  I had enough.

All this, because some tight wadded schmucky mcschmuckbag wouldn’t let me through.  You know, I think it’s time to get my ride fitted with battering rams and patriot missiles.  Either that or just start learning how to drive a tank.

Tank bulldozing on highway

Oh, and for those in the know, you’ll likely recognize the name of Long Island being the sewage waste of fecal material shaped like a fish and located just east of Manhattan (and the rest of what passes for the REAL New York).  One of these days I’m going to give a proper ranting of epic snark for why I utterly detest this filthy abominable land mass of vileness and perdition, but I need to be in the right creative mood.  It really does require invoking every word in the dictionary to truly convey my deep seated rage and hatred for this despicable island and its mentally insane occupants, but alas I must save this lengthy diatribe for another day.

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