Thursday, December 13, 2007

Lead Poisoning?

My friend, Karen, called this morning to tell me that her husband had gone to the fair grounds to get their plates tested for lead. It was a free service the county was providing because a young child had been diagnosed with lead poisoning, and it was discovered that the source of the lead was the plate she was eating from. Well, I hadn't heard anything about it, but since I was going to go run errands anyway, I decided to take some dishes in. There was a limit of 5 things that could be tested. I stood in line for about 1 1/2 hours, but this is what I found out.

The EPA considers any reading over 600 ppm unacceptable. The "gun" they use to test the items cannot measure the potential for lead leaching from your dinnerware into food, just how much lead is actually there.

The first item tested was a dinner plate that was Mom's. It tested 40. The others were unbelievable. The results are below each picture.





I was astounded!

I just couldn't believe what they were telling me. These are things we use daily. Dan uses the first one every night for dinner. We use the white one every day for cereal. Except for the one that Dan uses, they are from Pier One. And we bought them in the last couple of years. They were all made in China.

So Dan has an appointment next week to get his blood tested for lead. I have an appointment in 2 weeks for a check-up, and I'll have my blood tested also. Needless to say, we won't be using them again. So if you hear of a free testing clinic anywhere close to where you live, please take your plates or toys in to have them tested. I will let you know the results of the blood tests. It may be that we are just fine, that none of the lead leached out into our food, but that's what we need to find out.

Just as I got to the end of the line, a reporter and cameraman from Channel 4 came to cover the story. They interviewed me, I think, because my plates were so high, and they were relatively new, and from a name brand store--Pier One. They took pictures of the back of the plates with Pier One highly visible. So I may be on the news tonight at 10pm. Wouldn't you know it, I had just washed my hair this morning, and was wearing my scrunchy curly hair-do instead of looking nice for my TV premier! Maybe they won't use me! See, you should never leave the house unless you're looking good enough to go on TV!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

California Here We Come......(at least for a few days!)

We had a wonderful trip to California to see John and Jackie, and to be there for John's Surprise Birthday Party. He turned 65, and is planning to retire on March 1.

We left after Church, and drove to St. George to stay with Sue and Read Gilgen, who moved from Madison this past September. Sue had a wonderful meal waiting for our arrival, and we had such an enjoyable evening visiting. In the morning, we had another great meal, and left around 9 am. One of our favorite spots on the trip is the Virgin River Gorge. It is quite a picturesque ride, although you can't really tell by this picture. I mostly have to take pictures through the front windshield as we're driving by. Tom would stop if I really begged him to, but we'd never get to our destination if he had to stop every time I saw something I wanted a picture of!

We got to John and Jackie's new home around 3:30. It's beautiful, with about 3500 sq. feet of space. Needless to say, it was lovely. The only thing is that there is about about 8 feet between your exterior wall and the neighbor's. They have done a beautiful job with landscaping the back yard.

You can see a little of how close all the houses are to each other.

Jackie still had things to do to get ready for the surprise party, so we all had to do a lot of telling fibs about what we were doing during the day while John was at work. Tuesday, Tom and I got to walk around Balboa Island and Peninsula while Jackie was making a picture board for the party. It was a beautiful day, and there were very few people around.

On Thursday, John took the day off work, and we all went to San Diego to tour the Midway, and aircraft carrier that's been turned into a museum. This is a picture of me and Jackie, and her friend Bonnie who got us in for free.

You cannot believe how huge this thing is until you actually start walking around on it and in it.

We spent a lot of time up on the flight deck. They can carry 80 to 85 jets on this thing. There are 3 cables strung from side to side, and the pilot tries to snag the 2nd one with a hook under the jet. As soon as he touches down, he has to put it to full throttle in case he missed the cable, so he had enough power to take off again. If he is successful, someone signals him to cut the power, and the cable extends to the end of the runway before it actually stops him. As he's coming in, he has to compensate for the sideways pitch and front to back pitch of the carrier. There's a special signal that tells him if he's coming in too high or too low. John did a simulator, and he crashed every time! I don't know how they ever succeed in real life!

When they take off, they are attached to a catapult that actually throws them off the carrier at a speed faster than the jet can go on it's own power. So there's a moment when the jet takes over that the speed slows down before it pick up again, and one of the pilots said that you never get used to that, especially at night when it's pitch black and you can't see where the ocean is, and where you are. It's crazy! I think all the tour guides we talked to on the flight deck were retired pilots. It was amazing.

This center thing is called the Island

This is looking out of the Island control tower. This part of the landing strip is where they take off. That jet is attached to the catapult, and that's all the space there is before the carrier ends, and the water begins, and they have to reach enough speed for lift-off.

We took a lunch break and walked by this beautiful harbor to get to a place with several restaurants.

Here's John and Jackie after lunch, as we were walking back to the aircraft carrier.

By the Midway is a park with a huge statue of the famous picture that was taken of a sailor returning after World War I. So we each took our turn at posing in imitation. Our picture didn't turn out, but John and Jackie's did.

Friday finally came, as we continued to lie through our teeth. John had to spend the day at a meeting, and we had to come up with a story about what we were going to do for the day, and the evening. He and Jackie had been invited to dinner by some friends, and he would have canceled with them if he thought there was any way we could be together for the evening, since we were planning to leave on Saturday. Of course, we couldn't allow him to cancel, because that was going to be how they would get John to the party! So we said we were going to San Diego to go through the Temple, and then I had called a mutual old friend, Mark Haslam, and we were going to have dinner with him and his wife. And then we had to come up with details of what we were going to do between the time we went to the Temple and dinner---John just kept asking us questions! So as soon as he left on Friday morning, we took off with Jackie in our car, doing last minute things. And wouldn't you know it--it was pouring rain the whole day! I think it was the first rain in about a year! We had to get the table decorations and take them to the Country Club, then back to Balboa Island to get the picture board, and then back to the Country Club. I think Jackie had invited about 55 people, and it cost $100 a plate. They were going to charge her $50 for each table decoration, so she and a friend made them. She wanted to have bowls of mixed nuts on the tables, and they were going to charge an additional $3.50 per person to have nuts, so we put little bowls of M & Ms on the tables. We finally got everything done, and went back to the house to change for the party. But we were afraid to stay there, in case John decided to come home instead of going to the office after the meeting, so we had a couple of hours of just waiting. Everyone was to be at the Country Club at 6:00 pm for hors d'oeuvres and wine, then John and Jackie were coming "to dinner" with a friend. When they opened to door to the room we were in, John just stood there with a shocked look on his face. He said he would recognize someone in the crowd, and then wonder what they were doing there, and then he'd recognize someone else, and then wonder why they were there. He just couldn't figure it out!

It was a great party, and everyone was so friendly, and spoke of how they considered John a great friend and colleague.

This was after we got home, in their kitchen. John just couldn't quit talking about how wonderful everything was!

The next morning, Jackie had invited some of the people who had traveled a long way to come to the party over for breakfast, and once again, we had a wonderful time visiting with their friends. We had decided the day before that we would stay until Sunday morning, which was a good decision. We were too tired to leave! In the afternoon we went to their office, and loaded up our car with some of Aunt Sarah's furniture that they had been saving for me. That night we played Dominoes for the 2nd night, and Jackie totally slaughtered the rest of us. We played Mexican Train, and it was a lot of fun.

Sunday morning around 10, we took off for St. George. We got caught in a one hour delay outside of Vegas where they had to close the freeway down completely because of a car accident. When we got to St. George, we went to dinner and then to our room. It was terrible! It was dirty, with spots on the toilet that hadn't been cleaned. We promptly left, got a refund, and went across town to the Hampton Inn. It was 100% better!

Monday we drove home. It was good to be back, but we have wonderful memories of a great trip. Next time, we fly.