Monthly Archive:: September 2012

Highway Hazards, Which is Scarier?


A couple photos from some recent road trips for your amusement…


What have you seen on the roads lately that made you look twice?

Get Fired Up


Picture this: In an attempt to shift the blame in deaths caused by house fires, Big Tobacco enlists firefighters and shoddy science to sway the public and politicians to help create fire-retardancy standards. Then the chemical industry sets up and funds a trade group that pays “concerned professionals” and “ordinary people” to champion its efforts under the guise of a “citizens organization.” One of the people it pays includes a doctor, the head of the American Burn Association, who testifies in front of state legislatures about babies killed due to a lack of fire retardants…only those babies don’t exist. To top it off, the flame retardants don’t work as promised anyway, and the government is unwilling or unable to do anything about it.

That’s not the stuff of a paranoid conspiracy theory or a John Grisham novel. It’s from an investigative series by the Chicago Tribune that examines the origin and future of flame-retardancy standards in America.

I’ll briefly summarize the report here, but read it yourself for the full details. It’s an engrossing—and largely appalling—read.

Several decades ago, the tobacco industry was facing a public relations nightmare—not due to cancer deaths, but due to people dying in house fires caused by cigarettes. Rather than taking the heat or creating safer cigarettes, the industry decided to shift the blame to the furnishings that were catching on fire.

Obviously, the tobacco companies wouldn’t have much credibility spreading the idea that it was the furniture’s fault, so the industry decided to woo firefighters and fire safety organizations to their cause through grants and perks. A former tobacco industry executive came up with the idea of creating a firefighting organization to help their efforts. Thus, the National Association of State Fire Marshals was born.

It’s not quite clear to what extent the fire marshals realized they were pawns in a game to get people to support adding fire-resistant chemicals to furniture. Some of them thought the head of their association was a volunteer, not aware that he was being paid by tobacco companies. Regardless, the association worked to promote fire-retardant furniture (and maybe even genuinely believed in the cause) even as other firefighters expressed concerns about effectiveness and the more-toxic smoke produced when these products burn.

Oh, and that tobacco executive? He later went on to serve as a lobbyist for the chemical industry.

But hey, at least we’re protected, right?

Maybe not. Government studies have found no meaningful difference between household items treated with chemicals and those without. In addition, both produced a similar amount of smoke, which (as opposed to being engulfed in flames) is what usually causes deaths in fires.

The All-New Lexus GS 450h–Luxury in Green


The all-new 2013 Lexus GS 450h is not a Prius. Sure, it’s a hybrid and it has a battery in the trunk, but let’s be honest, you’re not buying the GS 450h to save gas. The new 2013 Lexus GS 450h is luxury on wheels. You’re buying the GS 450h to feel like you’re doing something to save the planet while you cool your bum during the summer and warm your hands during the winter. It’s a luxury car with green benefits. The GS, though, isn’t your ordinary green luxury car—it’s got spunk.

Graco Snugride Click Connect 40 Unboxing


No, it’s not another updated version of a Snugride, Snugride 30, Snugride 35 or SmartSeat with just a new number behind it!  It’s essentially all-new; base and carrier.  Stay tuned for our review of the Graco Snugride Quick Connect 40 infant seat, available initially at Babies R Us for $219.99.  According to Graco, it will accomodate most preemies and newborns all the way until 2-years old!  It’s also got Graco’s new stroller attachment system and will work with various upcoming stroller models.  There are internal side impact protection wings, a no-rethread harness and an innovative base recline system that increases foot room as older kids become more upright!  A pop up foot rest not only protects the vehicle seat back from dirty shoes, but also has tiny feet imprints to help give parents re-assurance that’s it is OK for the child to be able to have their feet touching the seat.


More information on the Graco Snugride Click Connect 40 can be found at Graco’s website.

  • The ONLY Newborn to 2 Year Infant Car Seat
  • Helps protect rear-facing infants from 4-40 lbs. – a full 2 years
  • Base adjusts, with 8 recline positions, for most leg room
  • Height adjustable headrest with no re-thread harness
  • Click Connect technology offers a one-step secure attachment to Graco Click Connect™ Strollers
  • Easily create custom-built travel systems with any Graco Click Connect™ Stroller
  • 8-position, one-touch base adjustment for precision leveling
  • Rigorously crash tested to meet or exceed U.S. safety standards
  • Safe Seat Engineered* (*safeseat engineering includes side impact testing, testing at 2x car seat standard, and testing to extreme car interior temperatures)
  • Side-impact tested* (*In addition to meeting or exceeding all applicable US safety standards, the SnugRide® Click Connect™ 40 car seat has been side impact tested for occupant retention by the harness system)
  • EPS, energy absorbing foam for effective impact energy management
  • Convenient, LATCH-equipped stay-in-car base – with LATCH storage compartment
  • Base features integrated belt lock-off for easier seat belt installation
  • Easy-to-read level indicator helps eliminate installation guesswork
  • 5-point, front-adjust harness helps you get baby in and out
  • Removable infant head & body support cushions baby
  • Removable infant harness covers
  • Removable preemie body insert
  • Adjustable footrest/seat protector