August 3rd, 2007


recalls may have a silver lining

I own a small number of shares of Mattel, Inc. I originally bought the shares because of Barbie. I figured this stock is likely to keep making money. And it has. It is the most successful of my many limited investments (the total value of all of my shares is about $2,000 - quite the big spender am I).

So I was a little disturbed when I saw this article in the L.A. Times. Mattel has had to recall a large number of toys made in China because of paint obtained from an unmonitored supplier. As the article points out, Mattel is unusual in that half of its factories are in fact owned by Mattel and because its overseas contracts have strict requirements for quality, worker safety, and other aspects of production. In other words, Mattel takes care that its products are safe and that they are made by people who are treated fairly. This does say a lot about the company.

But the fact that they send the work overseas at all is still disturbing. Here's where I think the recall might have another side. This recall, following fast on the heels of the pet food recall and not likely the end of the recalls, is making Americans more aware of the chances they take when they buy products made in other countries. Although consumers in this country have really short attention spans, the long run of recalls may make some of them sit up and think. And maybe more Americans will be willing to pay a little more to make sure that the products they buy are made in this country, with strict standards. Am I dreaming? I hope not.

The landscaping

The landscaping is complete. Everything except the masonry in front of the storage building and the little walkway at the front of the house, both of which Paul and I plan to do. I will also be adding more potted plants, both in front of the house and on the porch. So the Total Look is not yet there. Still:

From new house
The above pic is stitched together from two, which is why there is a jog in the roof line. Other than that, it looks right.

my xm is back

After many weeks I have xm radio again.

After the burglary I called the help number at xm and was never able to get through to the place where they would de-activate the radio. I wrote a couple of emails,asking them to de-activate it, but they said they could not do it, that I had to call. For the life of me I cannot understand why I had to call, why they could not have asked someone to de-activate it. But that's me.  It's what I would have done in their place. But we get used to this lack of real service, don't we? In any case I did not call to de-activate that radio. I understand voice systems but there are few things that can be more frustrating when they do not work right.

My bro Chris came through with his old roady xt, sent it to me right after the burglary. But the plugs did not fit right. I had a roady 2 and for whatever reason this version didn't do it. I finally went to Best Buy and found another new one, similar, we hoped, to the one I had. The guy at Best Buy made his best guess based on the charts in his books and said yes, I could return it if it didn't fit. One of the plugs did fit but the other did not.

Yesterday I brought both radios to the Car Audio Center here in San Luis Obispo. They took a look, said the new one was the better bet, said they'd make it work for $25. Done. They did. Took a little rewiring to do it. But of course I still had to activate it.

I tried to activate it online but did not get the choice of replacing the old one so I had to call them and speak to a real person. Which I finally got. She de-activated the stolen one and activated the new and now all is well. The new one has a few features that are nicer than the old, so in the end I'm happy.