2009-04-09 / News

Things that make me happier

Flotsam and Jetsam
By Donna Drago

I'm going to borrow a move from the Martha Stewart playbook. She often writes about "Good Things" in her publications. While I don't profess to being in the same league as Martha, I am going to tell you about some of the things that make my life better.

Rolling luggage

It wasn't that long ago when countless miserable people slogged their way through airports hoisting heavy luggage and posture-busting shoulder bags. We all looked like hunched over Neanderthals. Look at the word luggage—it does not conjure up containers of prized possessions, but rather implies that the bags are full of any old stuff to be lugged around.

Think back to when you checked in at the airport counter and checked heavy bags—dreading all the while the moment when you'd have to claim the tonnage at the other end of the journey.

These days everyone checks in on-line and, if they are smart, carries on all their lightweight, rolling luggage. Several times in the past few years, I have nearly missed close connections. Were it not for rolling luggage, those times would have turned out badly—I am not that fast, but with the addition of wheels, I can zip around with the best of them.

Sweet potato sushi

A new taste treat that I'm excited about is the sweet potato roll, found at a sushi bar. When I first saw them listed on the sushi menu at Shogun in Wakefield, I passed them right by, opting instead for my usual "Red Dragon Roll" or anything with eel on it. But, one day I decided to order it, mostly for the curiosity factor. Surprisingly, the sweet starchy orange center, surrounded by sticky rice and a neat seaweed wrapper is a fantastic combination. It's almost like eating dessert and is better left undressed—the rolls don't lend themselves to wasabi or soy. Now, whenever I find myself in a new sushi bar, which is quite often, I look to see if they have come up with a sweet potato roll as well. Next time you're in a sushi bar, give these simple treats a try.

Allergy eye drops Like many people I know, I have seasonal allergies. Usually, they are not bad, but the spring months can trigger some miserable symptoms. My primary complaint is always itchy eyes. There are days I can't stand it. Especially when the tree pollen counts are high. From the moment I wake up my eyes turn red and I rub them all day. This is not particularly good for either my eyes or the skin around them—it causes wrinkles. My ophthalmologist prescribed allergy eye drops a few years ago. They were very effective, but they stung like heck when I put them in twice a day and it took a few weeks of regular use before their benefits kicked in. The prescription drops cost $40 for a tiny squeeze bottle. Awhile back, I was out of the drops and away from home so I decided to try an overthe counter product. Well, you know what? The Walgreens brand of allergy eye drops, at about $5 per bottle, is just as effective. The Visine allergy ones work fine, too. I've tried several at this point and in a pinch the drugstore brands do the job.

Self-scan shopping

I can't believe that Stop & Shop supermarkets are the only ones in the area using the wonderful gadget that allows customers to tally their own purchases. For anyone who has not tried this marvelous device, it is a handheld barcode reader with an LED screen that keeps tabs of everything you buy. It works like this: you pick up an item, scan it with the reader, and put it in a bag in your cart. I always bring my own reusable bags, so I open them up in the belly of the cart before I start shopping. The scanner keeps a running tally of what's in the bags. If you decide you don't want to buy an item you have already scanned, you pick up the item, scan it again, and hit the button that says "remove item." Another cool feature is that the scanner alerts you to products on sale with a cute little "ka-ching" sound as you are passing by the item. By the time you get to the checkout, your items are already scanned and bagged. You go to the special checkout, point the scanner at a barcode on the register and all your information is downloaded to the register. You swipe a debit or credit card and go. It's so easy! I often look around to see who else is using the scanner and I'm amazed that fewer than half the customers are taking advantage of this item that truly makes life easier. I have to admit I don't typically like gadgets, so it took me a few months before I tried it for myself. Now, I'm addicted. I can't wait for McQuade's and Dave's to get something similar.

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