A Hampton Roads Gem

Why Pooping Needs Scooping

Here’s the Scoop:
I used to be one of them….an avid pet owner who rationalized and justified not picking up after my dogs while walking them.
I felt ‘responsible’ if I got my two dogs to do their business on that strip of land beyond one’s yard and sidewalk, that is city owned, but home owners are responsible for maintaining. I felt like a good citizen if my pets went in a common area like a median, an empty lot, a big field behind the playground, etc….any place that was not considered someone’s yard. And on those occasions when my pooches did go in someone’s yard, I thought, “Oh Well…it happens….I’ve had it done to me.”

I convinced myself that dog droppings were somehow ‘good for the environment’.

But then I had an epiphany, and seemingly overnight, I changed my habits and began picking up after my dogs…what triggered it? Maybe it was seeing other pet owners taking the more responsible and considerate approach of picking up after their dogs. Maybe it was watching some kids play in a field and thinking that one of them would likely trample, or worse, fall into a smelly messy pile of poo, and bring the mess home for a parent to deal with. Perhaps it was watching the elderly man, who is always working in his yard to keep it well tended and manicured…knowing that he frequently is picking up the waste of other people’s dogs. Maybe it was a combination of all the above.

So just like that, I went from being an aloof offender of pooper scooper laws and etiquette to an ardent stalwart of doggie doo waste removal. And yes, after the ‘transformation’ I had zero tolerance for people who do not scoop their dogs’ poop even though I was one of them for some time. I was wrong all along, despite all of my explanations and justifications.

Here are reasons, form the obvious to the obscure, as to why pet owners need to scoop the poop:

Bad for the Environment
It is a misconception that pet waste is ‘fertilizer.’ In fact, it is quite bad for the environment.
It contributes to storm water pollution, which negatively impacts our water ways, lakes, streams, ponds, and beaches.

Bad for your Family and Yard
If your dog mostly does his or her business on your own property, true, the unsightly waste out of the view of others. However, when left undisposed on a lawn, it still contributes to storm water pollution and it increases your family’s risk of contracting worms, parvo, and other diseases. Additionally, it is actually toxic to your yard. Click here fore more information.

Repugnant Nuisance
What is the most likely to occur from someone not picking up after their dog during a walk through the neighborhood:
  • A child steps in it and brings tracks it into her house, forcing her Mom and/or Dad to stop what s/he is doing, in order to spend the next 30 - 90 minutes (depending on the severity of the situation) cleaning it up.
  • A resident, wearing socks, steps in it while retrieving her mail or newspaper.
  • A kid, waiting at the bus stop, steps in it, just minutes prior to the bus arriving.
  • Service/repair person, steps in it after retrieving tools from his van, and inadvertently tracks it into a resident’s home.
  • A child being tackled into a big pile of it while playing football in a field.
  • A toddler, sticking his hand in it, while playing in his own front yard.
From the looks of some areas, all six are equally likely to happen, unless these people are proactively on the look out for errant dog poo, and that just shouldn’t be….People should not be in constant vigilance for piles of poo when engaging in normal, every day activities, often in their own front yards no less.

False Accusations/Beliefs of Responsible Dog Owners
When people walk their dogs, they happen across the waste left by other dogs, and their dog will sniff it. Pet owners, who pick up after their own dogs, usually will not pick up the waste of another pet...they are only responsible for their own. However, imagine a resident glancing out of the window, or just pulling up from a long day of work. This person sees a dog and her owner stop by an area, before leaving. In that same spot, is some doggie doo. The person who happened to glance over may very well believe that waste was left by the dog that just walked off, when it wasn’t . The person may confront the dog owner (and what an interesting and awkward exchange that may be when the dog owner insists the stuff was there before his dog stopped to sniff it). Or the person may say nothing, but have nothing but contempt and disgust for both the dog and owner.

Violation of Ordinances and Laws
There are pooper scooper ordinances and laws for a reason…because undisposed fecal matter is a big deal and does inconvenience others and negatively impact the environment.
Some ordinances may seem extreme to some people:
  • Jail Time and Hefty Fines. In Virginia Beach, one can serve up to a year in jail and/or up to a $2,500 fine, for not picking up after their pet. Add to this any other residual violations that may be present…no pet license, not on a leash, expired vaccinations, etc.
  • Reporting with Photographic Proof is something that some Community Management organizations encourage, even though it can be controversial. Once pictures are taken, it has been recommended by some that the violation be reported to the community’s health department vs. police department.
  • Some HOAs have DNA taken from pets in the community, for the purposes of penalizing pooper scooper offenders. Click here for more information.

Compliance Is Easy
As inconvenienced as one may feel about picking up after their own pet, it is a greater inconvenience for someone else to have to deal with it in one way or another. Also, once someone gets past whatever hang up they have about picking up after their pet, their are an abundance of tools available for this task:
Newspaper Sleeves, Plastic Grocery Bags, Pet Waste Bags. These all can be used like gloves, by sticking one’s hand inside of them, grabbing the waste, and pulling the bag inside out, around the waste, then tying the top part in a knot, and tossing it in the outdoor trash can. Just make sure whatever item is used is checked for defects such as holes, rips, or cracks, beforehand.
Pooper Scoopers. Don’t want to get that up close and personal to Champ’s nuggets? Pooper scoopers come in a variety of sizes and styles.
Disposable Latex or Vinyl Gloves. These come in handy for the person who wants that added protection of using a bag or a pooper scooper. They come like a box of tissues, where one can grab as many as needed at a time.

Just remember, regardless of whatever method used, and even if the added protection of gloves is used…always wash your hands after cleaning up after pet, as soon as you arrive home.

Human bodily waste has historically been isolated, and disposed of for a reason…it is unsightly, it smells, and yes, it can contribute to disease when brought into contact with others. Pets should be no exception and should have their waste disposed of quickly and properly.

Despite all that has been mentioned above, some will still rationalize that undisposed pet fecal matter, left on the property of others, or some common place, is not a big deal. Ironically, they are showing how big of a deal it is. If it were not such a big deal, one would let their pet continuously do their business right there is their house or yard . In essence, it is like saying, “No way do I want to deal with this nasty stuff in my house or yard. I will put it in someone else’s yard so they can deal with it instead.
Please…don’t be that person.


5 Compelling Reasons to Keep Your Receipts: From the Obvious to the Ambiguous

Compelling Reasons to Keep Your Receipts: From the Obvious to the Ambiguous

Always respond with a distrinctive “Yes” whenever asked if you would like your receipt…regardless of how mundane or insignificant the purchase may be. Having a receipt may keep you out of legal trouble on several levels. If you are concerned about the waste the extra paper causes the environment, think of it this way…you can put the paper in the recycling bin shortly, and recycling helps saves the environment as well as provides job security to those in the recycling division of waste management organizations.

1. Proof of Purchase. This is probably the most obvious. Whether purchasing several pieces of candy, or using your debit or credit card to gas up your car…always opt for a receipt. It is not uncommon for people to be questioned about a purchase, or even outright accused of not paying for something as little as penny candy. Producing a receipt resolves everything in a matter of seconds; with no further hassle. Who wants to defend themselves about a box of Mike and Ike that they don’t really like in the first place?

2. Refunds and Exchanges. This is also an obvious reason. If you purchased an item that does not fit or look right, purchased groceries and realized the packaged luncheon meat was already expired, or maybe you just changed your mind about that impulse purchase of the rabbit lamp that actually looks like the Donnie Darko rabbit… you will want a refund or an exchange. Receipts are almost always necessary when getting a refund, or making an exchange, clearly to prevent merchants from being taken advantage of.

3. Budgeting. By reviewing receipts, you can see where significant spending takes place (i.e. supermarkets, restaurants, coffee shops, etc.). From there, you can drill down and see which places are the main culprits. For example, you might notice that whenever you shop at Grocery Store A, you spend about 10% more than you do at Grocery Stores B or C; for similar purchases. You may conclude to shop at Grocery Stores B or C more than A. Or you may see that you constantly purchase a particular item, that you don’t use very often. This analysis may compel you to quit purchasing the item as much, and therefore, save some money. Also posting a receipt, from a large shopping trip, to the refrigerator or cabinet can help compel you to make the most of your hard earned money, by opting to whip up something in the kitchen vs. ordering out. Nothing like wanting to make the most of a $400 grocery store purchase! There are numerous other ways receipt analysis can help with budgeting.

4. Tax Deductions. Holding on to receipts can help you get a bigger tax refund, or help you to pay less on what you owe. So donating to charities, buying prescription medications and supplies, and in some states, paying sales tax, can make a difference when it comes to filing your taxes. And in the rare event that an audit occurs, having receipt copies is sure to be helpful.

5. Alibi. Finally, and the most obscure reason for saving receipts…they may get you out of a jam…legal, or otherwise. You may be suspected of being in one place when you were not. What better way to clear yourself if you have a receipt that has the date and time of where you actually were. Now admittedly, this can work both ways….a receipt could put you in the proximity of an offense and serve as damaging evidence against you…however, that is for the rhetorical post…Cloaking Your Receipts: When to Conceal and when to Reveal

Here Come the Holidays!

Here Come the Holidays!

Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kawanzaa, and New Years!
Ready or not, here they come.

For some, the Holiday season is a joyous time of the year, abundant with happy feelings of togetherness, good cheer, and festivities. For others, it is the downright most depressing time of the year, and for good reason: Loved ones gone, personal crisis, family conflict and the like. For many of us, the Holiday Season is a combination of both.

One thing is for certain, this time of the year is more hectic for most of us, whether we celebrate the holidays or not: Traffic is heavier, check out lines are longer, and all of the media outlets (tv, radio, newspaper, internet) are bombarding us with Holiday matter.

For those of us who are in the middle…find the holidays joyous, with a mix of depression and a dash of unpleasantness, here is a practical guide for getting the most out of the season

Small Doses

Attending the big holiday parade may not be your cup of tea, yet you want to be more festive than just watching a parade on tv. Going to a smaller venue can give you more enjoyment.
If you live in Kempsbrier, small, yet robust,holiday events are mere minutes away.

A Horse Drawn Wagon Ride or Hayride in the nearby country is the perfect small venue to enjoy this Holiday Season, starting November 28th and ending December 7th. This event is so small and intimate, it is done by appointment.

Breakfast with Santa, at the Virginia Beach Farmer’s Markert, December 13th is always a fun and enriching experience if you have little ones. A visit to the Farmers Market vendors, after breakfast, is the perfect way to get into the spirit of things, while keeping it light.

Christmas in the Country, December 10th - 19th, has a live Nativity, hayrides, pony rides, marshmallow roasting, crafts, for, music and more. How’s that for an cozy way to celebrate the Season?

Jingle Jog 5K is December 20th, 9am. If you like to do these kinds of runs as a way to stay in shape, and have some fun, but want to avoid crowded races, this may be just the event for you. Visit their Facebook page.

Attend or have a Holiday Party. Many work places host these and they often range from small and informal to large and formal. If you like, you can also have a small Holiday party. To avoid getting overwhelmed with planning a Holiday gathering at your home, consider getting with a couple of neighbors, and planning a multi-house open house of sorts. Agree on a time and date, and plan to have some small hors d’oeuvres, about 2-3, at each house, along with some beverages. These food and drink items can come right out of a package, box, or bottle. As long as they are cheerfully displayed on festive trays and in festive cups…that is quite enough to set people’s Holiday spirit a light! Neighbors can visit between each of the three houses.

Parade, Illuminations, and More!

If larger crowds are not an issue, here are some festivities you will surely enjoy:

Light Up the Town in Virginia Beach, November 22th, is a grand affair, complete with a parade, laser light show, carolers, and visits with Santa!

Norfolk’s Grand Illumination Parade, November 22th, is probably the grandest event in the Hampton Roads area. If you want to do the holidays big and kick it off with a bang, this event delivers a powerful punch!

Founders Illumination in Kempsville on November 30th. This event tends to draw lots of participants while still being rather intimate and not as busy as other events of this nature.

FestEvents Yule Log BonFire on December 4th. Get toasty and cozy!

Chesapeake’s Rotary Christmast Parade on December 7th. This festive event is just as joyous as the other parades, and as a big plus…it comes 2 weeks after the other Hampton Roads area parades and illuminations. So if you missed some of the other grand affairs, catching this event is sure to fulfill your spirit with Holiday cheer!

Avoiding Crowds

If it crowds you want to avoid, join the crowd, no pun intended. This may be a no brainer…the best time to shop is on a weekday, if you can. For groceries, right after a store opens, or just before closing, on a Monday or Tuesday. You may considering calling a local grocery store and asking a manager when the store is less crowded, yet well stocked. If shopping at a mall or a department store, the same thing basically applies…any week day, just after opening or during the later evening hours.

Another no brainer…shop online for gifts! There is no bigger time saver if you really want to avoid the crowds or spend your time more efficiently so you can celebrate the holidays in other ways, like attending the events mentioned above.

Even though shopping online is a big time saver, you will want to have a game plan in mind when using this method…just like many Holiday shoppers.

First, decide where you would like to do your online shopping, based on what you plan to purchase. You may decide to do all, or most of it at a one stop shop site. Or you may want to use several online sites, for a variety of reasons: Free Shipping, efficient shipping, good return policies, good customer service, savings, variety, etc. And to keep things simple, stick with standard shipping days. Face it, one of the reasons to plan for on line shipping is to avoid the need to do anything other than standard delivery.

As with with any kind of shopping you do, it is always good to first come up with a list of items you wish to purchase, before navigating the www. You may want to even list how much the items are for each online site, to help you save more.
Consider doing the following, if you don’t find it too troublesome:

  • Come up with a list of your 2-5 top online shopping sites, from doing your research in the paragraph prior to this one.
  • Open an Excel spreadsheet.
  • In cell A-1, type the word Item(s).
  • In cell B-1, type ‘For:’ This will indicate who the item, listed in the A column, is for.
  • In cell C-1, type the name of one of your type shopping sites.
  • In cell D-1, type the name of another one of your top shopping sites. Repeat this, in columns E-1, F-1, etc. for however many top shopping sites you have.
  • Now, do your research! All you need to do is type in a good search engine, the name of the item, and name of the site. For example, I simply Googled “Nude Queen Size Panty Hose Amazon”. On the first page of results, I saw the appropriate link, and within a couple of clicks, saw the price. Then I repeated this for the next site on my list.
  • Record the prices, for the item, for each of the respective sites, in the designated cell..
  • When you are done listing the price of all of the items, for each site, you can sum up the total of each site. This will show you which site is most economical for your list. You may need to add in any shipping fees that may apply to see which site is truly most economical when it is all said and done.
Attached is a sample spreadsheet, with just one item, but it will do for an example, and a template for you to use if you like.

When actually ordering your items, it is wise to avoid gift wrapping options from the online sites. The prices are extremely inflated for such a simple task. You are better off getting a few rolls of wrapping paper and packs of bows from a local merchant, and locking yourself in a room for about an hour or so. What could be merrier than wrapping gifts while sipping wine, cider, coffee, or any beverage of your choice, while playing carols, or whatever fits your mood!

As far as where to have items shipped, here are some things to keep in mind:
  • Will anyone be home to retrieve the gifts, so they don’t risk being stolen from your porch?
  • Will the intended recipients of the items be home when you are not, and can they be trusted to not pry open such deliveries?
  • Will the simple fact that boxes were delivered spoil the magic aspect of the season?
  • Is your porch not covered, and is there a chance that inclement weather could damage the deliveries before anyone can get home to retrieve them?

If any of the above are pressing concerns, consider having deliveries go to a location other than your home:
  • Your job
  • Your spouse’s job
  • A relative’s house
  • A friend’s/neighbor’s house
Note: most delivery services will not deliver to a PO Box.

Just make sure someone will be able to retrieve the deliveries at these locations too. In the case of deliveries to a job, try to place your orders so they will not be delivered during a day, or time time of day, when no one is at the job site. In the event that this does happen, the delivery service will usually make an attempt to re-deliver during office hours and/or leave a notice on the door, informing how you can retrieve the item. Note: This practice is sometimes (but not always) done with residential deliveries, vs. the delivery service leaving an item on a porch when no one is home.

And of course, always keep your tracking information handy, so if there is a problem, the shipping agency and/or online site will have ample time to resolve it.

When deliveries do arrive, discretely check them as soon as possible. If you did your research to determine your top sites, hopefully, accuracy in filling orders correctly was taken into consideration. With that being said, even the most efficient, and accurate sites for filling orders, can have the occasional slip up. It is not a good feeling to have a box sitting around for days, or weeks, just to discover 2 days before Christmas, that an item….
Did not get shipped
Is damaged
Came in the wrong size, color, etc.

Shopping online is not everyone’s cup of tea. Some people just don’t shop during the Holidays, and others revel in the hustle and bustle of getting out in the crowds, looking for deals, etc., while others just don’t trust the whole idea of purchasing something before physically seeing and handling the item. But if you do plan on some gift shopping, then a quick mental assessment would be in order to see what is best for you:
Time, gas, money, anxiety of traditional shopping vs. Time, money, anxiety of shopping online.
Weigh the odds….
Would you get more enjoyment from the experience of traditional shopping, and would it be worth it? Or would you be able to better utilize your holiday time by shopping online, and have your away from home excursions devoted to holiday events vs. traditional shopping?