Make Your Holiday Shopping Red, White and Blue. Start Today. #AAMDay.

So, I’m at the skincare counter of a local department store the other day chatting with Alice, my favorite makeup / make-over miracle-worker, and she says: “Hey, what’s happening with the blog?”

Seriously? She remembers it? After hibernating in my converted garage office for days, weeks, months, surrounded by newspaper clippings and books and files and purchases, I’m so grateful to Alice for remembering the blog that it’s hard not to gush. I restrain myself. Wouldn’t want to frighten her or anything. (Bay Area Blogger over-hugs esthetician. Film at 11...)

“Well...I’m working on a book about my year trying to buy stuff made in the USA…but I do miss writing the blog…thanks for asking about it.”

Alice keeps pushing. “At the very least, you should post a Gone Fishin’ message or something. Let people know what’s happened to you.”

“People?” I ask, picturing Alice, party of one, perusing my website. Cue crickets in background.

“Sure. I’m always telling people about your blog.”

The other reason I like Alice? She’s like a collagen-shot to this writer's ego.


But let’s cut to the chase, as my impatient, always-thinking cinematographer-Dad used to say. Why a blog post now, after such a long absence? Because it’s American Made Matters Day. I couldn’t let this pre-Black Friday occasion slip by. Need motivation to think about purchasing at least one American-made product today? Consider this photo of super-sized, imports-packed shipping containers stacked up at the Port of Long Beach, CA.

Congestion worsens at Ports of L.A., Long Beach

It's a safe bet that most are filled with holly-jolly import-goodies destined for retail stores all across the USA. Did you know the number of imports arriving in Port of Long Beach in September alone increased by 11 percent?

Putting the trade imbalance issue aside, think about this disturbing nugget: according to author / former Western Digital Corporation executive Todd Lipscomb (Re-Made in the USA), "just 15 of those enormous cargo container ships produce as much pollution as all the cars in the world...they use 'bunker' fuel, which contains 2,000 times the level of sulfur and other pollutants. That dirty oil they burn equates to pollution emissions from 50 million cars for one year."

Let me repeat. 15 cargo containers = a year's worth of pollution emissions from 50 million cars. Now multiply that by a gazillion cargo containers slogging back and forth from China to Long Beach every day of the year, spewing unregulated gunk into our seas. Nice. Still, we need our Shenzhen-made iPhones, right? And no, I'm not volunteering to give mine up.

On the other hand, imagine if most of the holiday gifts, decorations, and clothing we'll be scooping up in the coming weeks had been made here at home, somewhere in the USA. Lipscomb estimates that "if every adult in this country made the commitment to buy one $30 American-made product per month, instead of its foreign version, we would directly create 500,000 jobs here in the USA...[which would lead] to additional jobs at suppliers, transporters, and other companies that support the manufacturing and sales processes."

We can commit to that, right?

For example, let's say you were going to pick up some Legos construction toys for your kids/ nieces/ nephews / grandkids. Legos are manufactured in many, many countries--except ours. No worries. Buy K'NEX instead. Made in Pennsylvania. No oceanic travel necessary. From its website:

K'NEX is the only construction toy company committed to manufacturing in the United States. K'NEX bricks, rods and connectors are manufactured in Pennsylvania at [an] eco-friendly facility...While most toys are made overseas, we are committed to manufacturing in the United States.

Look what Troy (17), a devoted K'NEX builder made (thus simultaneously creating a charming focal point for his parents' living room):

thrill rides car

Troy--who's wisely decided to pursue an engineering degree--says Legos frustrated him: Legos had restrictions as to different shapes and angles I could build, [but] K’NEX provided a nearly limitless approach to rudimentary engineering because of the numerous combinations of connections between two pieces.

Check out American Made Matters for links to hundreds of USA-made products (and money-saving holiday discounts). Happy shopping!

And Alice? Thanks again for the encouragement.