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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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From My Window

Issue Date: March 17, 2022

Packaging

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One of the tricks to keep dogs from chewing on things you don't want them to, besides ensuring they get plenty of exercise, is providing them with a safe toy they can chew. For dogs that are "aggressive chewers," that is, they will reduce a normal dog toy to wreckage in a nanosecond like ours, the best thing we've found is a hard plastic or nylon bone, sold under various brand names.

We use them at the animal shelter to alleviate stress and boredom, and believe me, big dogs who have to spend most of their time in a kennel can lay waste to almost anything you give them to play with. (Note: as with anything, you should talk to your vet before giving your dog one of these toys, and I don't recall seeing them in small dog size.)

When our dogs have worn the bones down to what I call "shivs," I throw them out. My dogs go crazy when they see I am getting new ones out, but we usually go through some drama because they come in those hard plastic bubbles, sealed on all four sides, without any feature to help you open the package. These packages are significant contributor to high blood pressure.

I need both a utility knife and a kitchen shears to open them. It usually takes about ten minutes, all the while with dogs churning impatiently around me. In my frustration, I often have to call the "safety police" on myself because I get so angry my fingers are at risk from the knife blade. I end up stabbing into the rigid plastic bubble and then slashing slits in it until I can get at the nylon zip ties holding the bones to cardboard with the shears. The cardboard is sealed on all edges and front and back to the hard plastic. That still leaves me to try and yank out the dog bones without cutting myself on the strong plastic shards of the slashed-open bubble. It really shouldn't be this difficult, should it? Do dog bones need to be "childproof," much less "adult proof?" Are plastic dog bones a target for tampering?

Once I have the bones out and the dogs mollified, the cardboard is impossible to separate from the hard plastic, making it difficult to recycle what I can. After serving its over-engineered design purpose of totally frustrating me, the packaging makes its way to the landfill, where it will rest for the next thousand years. If I finish without requiring a band aid, I consider it a victory.

Recently I ran across some plain white kitchen string. Ah, nostalgic memories of packaging in a simpler time. This string was used to wrap the meat my mom bought at tiny Ray's Market in Marinette in the early 60's. Each cut was double-wrapped in heavy white butcher paper, then tied with white kitchen string and labeled with a marker.

My maternal grandfather Schmid, a Swiss cheese maker most of his life near tiny Clarno, WI, occasionally sent my family five pound cuts of prime Swiss wheels. He wrapped them in the same butcher paper, tied them with string, and wrote our address directly on it. Our mail carrier would hang the cheese using the string on the handle of the mailbox door. We'd be very excited when we saw such a delivery at the end of our driveway. Can you imagine me walking into a post office now with a paper wrapped, string tied hunk of cheese with an address on it? "Any perfume? Lithium batteries? Anything hazardous?" "No sir, just cheese." I can imagine the look I'd get. And string? I don't think so.

These simple packaging methods were user-friendly; and the string was accumulated to reuse. No special tools needed to package, or to open.

Yesterday's mail brought a gigantic plastic mailing envelope, about 20" x 12" and rolled up to fit in our mailbox. The contents? One small bottle of prescription medication. It would have easily fit in a 6" x 9" mailer or even smaller ?? but for reasons that are mysterious to me, they went big. Big, plastic and unrecyclable; it also lacks an opening method, so you have to use scissors.

My horse feed, which used to come in heavy grade paper sacks closed with string sewed across the top, now comes in plastic bags too. The string sewed on top the plastic bag NEVER opens the bag as designed, not even once. I have to keep a utility knife handy there too, to slash the bag open. I never had issues with the paper bags, and don't know why this change was made, but I get irritated every single time I open a bag, which of course, will also go into the landfill for a lengthy repose.

I understand the need for theft-resistant or childproof packaging for some things. There is no way to tell how many thousands of accidental poisonings medication packaging has prevented. I acknowledge the bottles are hard to open for some people, but these are the kind of sacrifices a civilized society makes on behalf of its children. But there is no need to make opening dog bones so challenging.

That's okay, though, as I have devised a good workaround for the dog bone issue. I will have Mike do it. He has a table saw.

Book I am reading: "Blue Highways, a Journey into America" By William Least Heat Moon. Non-fiction. A travelogue of sorts, and also an exploration of the very diverse people who live in the United States. This is an older book, but with insights and observations still relevant today, told from the perspective of a keen observer who is of Native American ancestry. There is some very thought-provoking reading in this book.

NOTE: I need prayer to quell my shock and horror of what is happening to Ukrainians.

You can reach me for commentary, alternative viewpoints or ideas at this e-mail address: JanieTMartin@gmail.com.


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