My personal signs of spring.

Even though the yard is still snow covered (BLECH!  A pox on late springs!!), it is actually spring.  Here is how I know (aka, I don't need no stinkin' robins to tell me it's spring!)

1. The turkey vultures come back.
2. The red-tailed hawks start what I assume are mating flights, as this is the only time of the year I see them soaring around in pairs.
3. The mourning doves start cooing to each other.
4. The red-winged blackbirds come back.  I wonder if they will try to nest in the yard again this year?
5. The cardinals sing their distinctive song, after having remained silent all winter.

And the best indicator of spring... Cadbury's Easter Creme Eggs.  Yes, I know, but I cannot resist them!

I should be welcoming this late spring, as it gives me more time to work on the house before the yard word starts, but still - I am so tired of winter already!  And surprise, surprise, I'm sick AGAIN - laryngitis this time.  I haven't been able to speak normally since last Thursday, and since this Thursday, I have literally no voice above a whisper.  The doc put me on antibiotics, and if it hasn't gotten better by early next week, off to a specialist I go :(

Please excuse my inner geek.

So, I'm not saying this is like me AT ALL, or anything, but some might remember the day I found the slime mold on one of my petri plates, and got way too excited...

Source:  The funniest comic on the web Click to embiggen.


is it a bad thing that slime molds are among my favourite things??  The structures they produce while spoulating are absolutely stunning - in a microscopic sort of way.  And yes, it is actually called dog vomit slime mold :)

$500 Challenge - March Edition

This month's challenge proved to be EXTREMELY frustrating.

I wanted to replace my old non-stick bake-ware with new, not non-stick, North American made bake-ware.  After reading some great reviews about Chicago Metallic bake-ware, I decided to do some research here, and found out all their products are made in the USA. 

From the website:

So, I found a Canadian distributor, and placed a fairly large (to me) order.

Now, keep in mind I'm doing this via mail-order, and paying more for both the product, and for delivery, because I want North American made, good quality products.  I've researched the company, read on-line reviews, done my due diligence, so to speak.  And everything I've found says this product is well-made, long-lasting, good quality - and made in the USA. 

So, imagine my surprise when I opened the box:

WTF?  I e-mailed Chicago Metallic to ask about the discrepancy, and this is the reply I received:

We are sorry about your pans but you have the wrong Chicago Metallic. We are the industrial side of the pan market and we do not have house ware pans. Chicago Metallic is under another company also and the company you have bought your pans from buys from China. All the pans we manufacture will not fit in the normal oven. Yes you are right, you could go to the nearest Walmart and buy the same pans. Our pans are made in the USA and we sell to distributors. If you have any questions please feel free to call.

Now, I am under the impression that no business will allow another to operate under the same name, in the same country, making the EXACT SAME PRODUCTS, without approval.  I'm also under the impression that all loaf pans, cake pans, muffin pans and pie plates will indeed fit in a "normal" oven, but that's a minor quibble. 

Digging a bit deeper on-line, I find this site, which, conveniently enough, is under construction.  Nowhere can I find any "warning" that there are two companies called Chicago Metallic, one that manufactures in the USA, one in China.  In fact, I can't find ANY information on Chicago Metallic the second and their manufacturing processes.

So, I can either believe this is all innocent, and Chicago Metallic the first is either unaware of, or can do nothing about, Chicago Metallic the second. 

Or, I can believe the two companies are linked in some way, and are using the reputation of the first to sell the products of the second on the home market.  I responded to the e-mail above with some of these questions, and to date, two weeks later, am still waiting for a reply. 

What to do?

I can return the pans to the distributor, and pay the shipping and re-stocking fee (since this is not their fault in any way), then go buy lesser quality products at a local store.

I can keep these pans, and provide a "win" to Chicago Metallic for their marketing strategy - and indeed, these are decent quality pans,
better than I have found elsewhere. 

The one thing I apparently cannot do is find North American made bake-ware, or force Chicago Metallic to own up to their misleading marketing tactics.

It shouldn't be this hard.

Since I will most likely cave in, and keep the pans, the tally for the challenge is as follows:


Two square cake pans, two round cake pans, one rectangular cake pan, two muffin pan, one min-muffin pan, and two loaf pans:
$149.75 + $9.97 shipping + $20.76 tax 
Total: $180.48
Balance: $212.78


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