Saturday, December 20, 2008

Trying to get into the spirit of things

It just doesn't feel like the holidays (or as the TV ads in Miami say, I guess to get around that controversy, the Holy Days).

December is not one of my better months. My best friend of 30 years died two years ago on December 22; my Grandmother died on Christmas Eve; My Father died on Boxing Day; and an Uncle died on New Years Eve. But, as we use to say, we have to keep our spirits high for the sake of the kids (what kids?).

Hope this little movie will brighten up your day and help you get into the spirit of the season despite the real possibility that you might be one in six Americans who will lose their job in the next eight months.

Bah Humbug!

Worse Person in the World

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas memories jogged as UK's Woolworth Stores Close

I have fond memories of Woolworth's. They had a lunch counter that couldn't be beat. Eating many a tuna fish sandwich "cut 4 ways" and they had a banana split that couldn't be any better.

They had a long-time marketing plan on those banana split. Balloons hanging over the counter included a slip of paper with a price of your banana split written on it. I believe the prices ranged from a penny to 99¢.

While I was looked after by friends of Mama, who worked behind the counter, my parents shopped for just about anything that was needed in the house, including Christmas toys for me.

Years later, I purchased my first color TV from Woolco, a subsidiary of F. W. Woolworth Company. That TV lasted longer than any other TV I have ever owned. In fact, when in the Navy, Mama and Daddy used it and never gave it back. In the early 80s, Woolco was closed. It was devastating to us in Key West, as it was the last discount store and Woolco offered many items not offered anywhere else.

In Fredericksburg, VA (where I grew up), Woolworth's eventually moved into a smaller store at the Mall and closed its downtown store. That beautiful building, built on the property where the Fredericksburg Opera House had once stood is now a mixture of antique stores "under one roof." The Woolco building became K-Mart and is now a Burlington Coat Factory store.

By Woolworth’s 100th anniversary in 1979, it had become the largest department store chain in the world, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Today, all that is left of this mighty business is The Foot Locker, Inc.

This all brings me to today's news:

Woolworths to close in January

Administrators at Woolworths say that all 807 stores will close by 5 January.

The first shops will shut on 27 December and all 27,000 permanent and temporary staff will lose their jobs if no last-minute buyer is found.

The administrators said there was still interest in parts of the business but admitted they had "not come close" to finding a buyer for the firm.

A range of food, clothes and "value retailers" have made offers to take over the leases at about 300 stores. And efforts would be made to put Woolworths staff who were losing their jobs in contact with these potential employers, the administrators Deloitte said.

Deloitte's Neville Kahn said it was unclear how much of its debts would be paid, but added it was "clear that the creditors and suppliers will not get paid in full".

BBC News Report

Auto Dust Biting

Chrysler To Close All Plants For One Month

Chrysler says it will close all 30 of its manufacturing plants for a month starting Friday.

The company needs to match production to slowing demand and conserve cash.

Tighter credit markets are keeping would-be buyers away from their showrooms, Chrysler says.

Full NPR Story

Names: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

I have always been interested in names. Don't know why, really, but sometimes, I just sit down with pen in hand and start writing fictitious names on a piece of paper. I am most interested in First and Middle names.

My current favorites are: Wesley Wayne, Emily Anne and Frederick Alexander.

I also go through rituals of laughing or being disgusted at parents who give their children familiar names, but don't look them up first and end up spelling them in an abnormal fashion. One example of this is of a mother who always wanted to name her child "Mackenzie," however, the spelling on the birth certificated ended up with a spelling of "Mahkenzie."

My cousin, Vicki is yet another example of this problem, although, the spelling was not wrong. Her birth certificate spells her name "Vicki," however, when she was sent to school, the teachers told her that her name was spelled "Vickie" and that is the way she spelled it until last year, when trying to get her driver's licence under her new married name and her old driver's licence, marriage licence and birth certificate did not match. She had an awful time trying to prove to a new county clerk that she was who she said she was.

Finally, after (no age here.. we'll just say over forty years) several years, her name was officially reverted back to the original birth certificate spelling.

The last type of name is what I call, The "My God, what the hell were they thinking?" Name.

These are names like: Sparkle Cider, Sunshine Starr and Tiffany Lass (at least they dropped the "G").

This type also is included in a story from about 20 years ago about a mother who named her boy "Johnson Cotton" because it was the first thing she saw after giving birth to him. I wonder how many other men in this country are named for Johnson & Johnson Cotton, or worse, how many are named Cotton Swab or Cotton Ball? To tell you the truth, I've seen some names that look like they come directly from the eye chart!

And then, there are names that are just asking for trouble (As I sit here, thinking about the old Johnny Cash song "Boy Named Sue").

This story appears on MSNBC's website.

Wed., Dec. 17, 2008 — EASTON, Pa. - The father of 3-year-old Adolf Hitler Campbell, denied a birthday cake with the child's full name on it by one New Jersey supermarket, is asking for a little tolerance. Heath Campbell and his wife, Deborah, are upset not only with the decision made by the Greenwich ShopRite, but with an outpouring of angry Internet postings in response to a local newspaper article over the weekend on their flare-up over frosting.

"I think people need to take their heads out of the cloud they've been in and start focusing on the future and not on the past," Heath Campbell said Tuesday in an interview conducted in Easton, on the other side of the Delaware River from where the family lives in Hunterdon County, N.J.

The Campbells' other two children also have unusual names: JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell turns 2 in a few months and Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie Campbell will be 1 in April.

Deborah Campbell, 25, said she phoned in her order last week to the ShopRite. When she told the bakery department she wanted her son's name spelled out, she was told to talk to a supervisor, who denied the request.

Karen Meleta, a spokeswoman for ShopRite, said the Campbells had similar requests denied at the same store the last two years and said Heath Campbell previously had asked for a swastika to be included in the decoration.

"We reserve the right not to print anything on the cake that we deem to be inappropriate," Meleta said. "We considered this inappropriate."

Full Story

This concludes my rare, if long, Andy Rooney style opinion.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Group Works To Weaken Electoral College Process

The Electoral College met yesterday to officially elect Barack Obama President.

From NPR:

Members of the Electoral College are meeting around the country Monday to make Barack Obama's election official. Obama's margin of victory has made the process free of controversy, but that hasn't always been the case with the Electoral College.

Click here to hear the full NPR Report.

The Lame Duck "DUCK"

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The "Skinny" on High Fructose Corn Syrup

I use sugar at home and don't drink much soda. However, I found this interesting.

Critics have worried that the sweetener known as high fructose corn syrup -- which is found in many foods not considered sweet, along with soft drinks -- tricked the body into thinking it wasn't full, adding to the nation's obesity problems.

A new study said, however, that HFCS is no different from any other sweeteners and that it does not cause obesity more than other sweeteners.

Researchers and members of industry came together to study the issue. The president of the Corn Refiners Association said that studies that have found problems with HFCS have actually looked at pure fructose, rather than the combination of fructose and sucrose -- also know as table sugar.

At a symposium, the experts concluded that HFCS and sucrose have similar sweetness and are treated the same by the body. They said they found that calorie intake in the U.S. increased 24 percent per person from 1970 to 2005, but that the extra calories were not from sweeteners, but came across all food groups.

They also said that per capita consumption of HFCS has dropped in recent years, even as obesity rates continued to climb.

The researchers offer more information at HFCSfacts.com.

Online Story

Blooms of Plunkett

Blooms of Plunkett
A Banana tree in the backyard in full bloom