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Trump, Cruz and Rubio are all small men after all

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As I was watching  the Republican Primary (grade school) debate Thursday night I felt like I was watching a Saturday Night Live skit or maybe not even that good, more like a bad circus act. I figured pie throwing would be on the agenda at any moment. My mind could not comprehend that these were indeed real honest-to-goodness potential presidential nominees and bore no resemblance to what I grew up thinking was democracy in action. The antics of Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio were like the school yard bullies yelling “sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me.” I’m leaving John Kasich out of the fray because he basically played nice. Boring but nice. In his case though boring was like a breath of fresh air on the political debate stage that can only be described as a circus.

While Trump kept calling Rubio “little Marco” and once again the size of Trumps hands and lower appendage came up (Rubio has claimed Trump’s hands and other “things” were small). Trump claimed he was fine in “that department” I found myself astounded that this was being discussed in a political arena (TMI). This debate was supposed to be about issues that are important to the American people that pertain to the economy, jobs, climate change, health care and more but our issues were secondary  to the circus clowns verbally knocking each other down as they told each other to stop talking, stop lying and at one point Cruz telling trump “breathe Donald, breathe.” This, as they all talked over each other just as children are inclined to do. A more stately sight would have been any man, woman or child anywhere across America or any of the “uneducated poor” (Trumps quote) with manners and class that the potential nominees lacked.

I guess I was embarrassed and couldn’t imagine Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders or a host of other past presidents (some that I didn’t even like) acting like bottom feeders in a frenzy to get our vote and doing it on national TV. The office they are trying to attain somehow seems tainted by the mere fact that they are clawing for that brass ring that they have tarnished. None of these guys are presidential material. It is extremely hard to think of the word President in any kind of context that includes their names. These three clowns are all small men in every possible sense of the word.

 

 

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March 5, 2016 · 9:55 am

Wonderbag? I Thought This Was Some Kind of Joke

I recently read a short business news  blurb on the internet somewhere about a woman, Sarah Collins,  who had spent a good portion of her life trying to help other women in rural Africa help themselves. It just so happened I had been reading a fiction book series about Africa (The Ladies #1 Detective Agency) so Africa may have been fresh in my mind when I clicked on her story. Although the book I was reading was not serious in nature at all it was just a light hearted, won’t tax your brain mystery.

I started to look for more information on Sarah Collins and found  a lot. I must have been living under a rock. I found out out she had started small community businesses to help many women in Africa feed and clothe their kids. She helped out in clinics and aided the environmental conservation effort in primarily rural African communities, to help the people conserve what resources they had. This woman was relentless, kind of like a one woman band. I was duly impressed and feeling like a total underachiever in the area of helping others.

Evidently, starting back in 2008, rolling blackouts were a common occurrence in Johannesburg and ongoing energy shortages were everywhere throughout South Africa. In some cases homes, schools and hospitals etc. only had power for a few hours every few days. Sarah was trying to figure out a way she could help people feed their kids and families hot meals with limited fuel or wood. Many rural African kids didn’t attend school because they were needed to gather firewood daily which took many hours. It was necessary to do this for nourishment.

Then Sarah had an idea that grew from her memory of farm living as a child. Her grandmother would put blankets and cushions around a hot pot of soup or stew to keep it cooking slowly for hours. This was done to conserve limited fuel on the farm. Sarah decided that this simple idea was not much different than burying food in the ground while cooking which had been done for centuries.

Sarah then set out to make a prototype for a heat-keeping-cooker that could be used for hours with no electricity or fuel and cook for up to 12 hours. She came up with what she called “Wonderbag.” I must admit when I heard about this I thought it was a joke. The whole idea put visions of night-time infomercials dancing in my head so I looked further. But it is basically a large heat-retention bag made out of material on the outside and a thick lining inside. It’s actually cute looking and if you didn’t know what it was you wouldn’t know what it was, if you get my drift.

When I looked into where I could get a Wonderbag,  I was limited to Amazon, at least in the U.S.  Africa has had them available since about 2008 where 700,000 of them have been sold or given away, but they are relatively new here. I love the idea that for every single one purchased, one is given away in Africa to someone in need. My next quest was to find out exactly how to use it and see if there were reviews from people who have used them (there are many reviews on Amazon both pro and con).

I ordered one because my family calls me the crock pot queen. I am hard pressed to bypass a new type of crock pot and I thought it would be a great conversation piece. I also thought it would be fun to write about to more or less see if it worked or not. Yes, I had to pay full price of course, but I figured it was for a good cause. You have to have something boiling or simmering first before you place a metal or cast iron pot into the Wonderbag but it really does cook. I’ve done rice and it turned out perfect. My chili turned out great too.  I could see this being utilized for camping, RV’s, tailgating, food shows and well, anywhere you didn’t have or didn’t want to use electricity but needed to keep something slow cooking.

For many of the African women that Sarah helped by giving them these Wonderbag’s,  the affect on their families has been profound; their children only have to look for firewood once a week now so they could return to school, the women who do their cooking to sell to others make more money for their families because they don’t have to spend time and money on fuel. In the meantime, I’m reading the recipe book that comes with my Wonderbag; http://amzn.to/1yx7pL5  to see if I can master a bag that cooks.  I am an Amazon affiliate and receive a small commission if you purchase through my link.

 

 

 

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September 29, 2014 · 5:55 pm

Abercrombie & Fitch Has Become Totally Uncool Boo Hoo

 

It’s pretty funny that Abercrombie & Fitch, home to giant logos and egos is now closing down stores left and right, getting rid of their logos, slashing prices and trying to appeal to the masses instead of just the “cool” people it has been vying for since 1992.

Their last few earnings reports have been as dark and gloomy as their once shuttered-windowed stores that reeked of cologne and uber’ preppy-ness (probably not a word but you get the picture). Their 70 year-old flip-flop wearing plastic-faced CEO Mike Jeffries, has evidently seen the light. The shutters have come off the windows, which were intended for a closed/club atmosphere, the cologne that was sprayed everywhere is supposedly gone and the logo clothing will be gone in U.S. stores sometime in 2014.

Abercrombie & Fitch was the “cool” brand a decade and a half ago. Sales of its preppy clothes was in the billions. Teens had ranked it as the sixth coolest brand, and its then newly launched surfer-lifestyle line, Hollister Co., was an instant hit when it opened.  But now, with stores like H&M and Zara  among many others offering trendy clothing at cheap prices,  Abercrombie wants to win back its base,  according to Jeffries. This could be hard because their base was the “cool” I love logos and overpriced clothing people. Shoppers today (even if they are using their parent’s money) aren’t going to pay $70 for a pair of Abercrombie jeans when they can get a pair they like for $10 elsewhere.  They also have a decade of bad PR and exclusionary hiring practices to overcome.  And parents have always hated their overtly sexual ad campaigns for teens, they have stopped such ads but the memory still lingers for many.

Abercrombie settled for $50 million in 2004 after being sued for discrimination against racial minorities. Last year, quotes made by Jeffries during a 2006 interview resurfaced; he had said the brand targeted “cool, good-looking people,” a statement that generated heavy, even viral backlash. (And earlier this year, researchers suggested that its crowded, cologne-filled stores may actually cause anxiety.) I don’t know if I’m actually buying-into the anxiety stuff but hearing issues about keeping what were deemed less attractive workers in the back storeroom stocking and actually asking customers who “looked the part” to apply for a job after they just told someone else they had no openings was certainly blatant discrimination and cause for anxiety for those who had to deal with it.

In usual CEO-speak fashion here is what Jeffries said a few days ago at the earnings disclosure meeting; “We are confident that the evolution of our assortment will drive further improvements going forward, we remain highly focused on returning to top-line growth and driving long-term value for our shareholders.”

My translation of this is simply; We took the stupid logos off so the overpriced made anywhere but in the U.S.A. clothes will at least look different. We want our sales in the billions like we used to have but we burned too many bridges and pissed off to many people because we weren’t playing fair or even legal let alone politically correct, ethically, or with an ounce of sensitivity. We really only care about our shareholders and the long-term value for them.

The customer? Jeffries never even mentions the word which is a very telling omission for a business. He and his company have become “uncool” and they probably don’t even know it. For Jeffries this has to be his worst nightmare. (the links in this article are just some of the other blogs I have written about Ambercrombie since 2009.  Just click on them if you want more background on their “uncool” behavior over the years).

(Ever since I published my first short-read on Amazon “Widows Like Me”  I have had some readers ask me why I went digital with it and not published it as a “real book.” The short answer is it was cheaper for me and I had total control. An e-reader doesn’t have to break the bank, I own the cheapest one Amazon carries; . http://amzn.to/1sZW7X9 its the 6in.  non-glare touch model. I’m an Amazon affiliate so if you click through this link to buy this e-reader or anything on their website through my link I get a very small commission.

 

 

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September 1, 2014 · 10:07 am

Robin Williams Made us Laugh, Cry, and Remember What He Left Behind

Actor Robin Williams died Monday morning at age 63. According to all media reports it was an apparent suicide.

Everyone is talking about him — and that alone says volumes about what an enormous loss this is. The fact that everyone has something to say about this comic genius shows what an impact he had on the lives of people, most who only knew him through his body of work. This news has everyone in shock. It is gut-wrenching and beyond sad. We all have Robin Williams moments that we remember in particular, whether it was a performance that made us laugh or one that made us cry or one that teetered on the edge between the two. Author and humorist Erma Bombeck once said, “There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy and humor and hurt. Obviously, not a new theory but sheds light once again on someone laughing on the outside while masking their troubled inside.

What is amazing about the response online and everywhere, is not just the countless number of people who want to get together and express their feelings about him but how many different things they remember. He spanned decades and generations of fans. There’s the Robin Williams who made kids and families laugh with Aladdin, Mrs. Doubtfire and RV and the Robin Williams who inspired us to get up on desks and shout “O captain my captain” in Dead Poet’s Society. There’s the Robin Williams who made us laugh when we were adults with Good Morning Vietnam and Birdcage. And of course, Good Will Hunting, his Academy Award winning performance showed off his dramatic skills. His stand-up acts were like a whirlwind of comedy leaving one almost breathless watching his rapid fire humor.

It feels personal to us because he made something for everyone. He gave us so many choices. “He put 150 years of laughter into 63,” NPR’s Scott Simon tweeted.

My son Jeff was in the Marines for 20 years and saw Williams many times in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He told me he even got to meet him once. He said he considered it an honor to meet someone who thought so much of the troops that he would regularly go to the chow hall and eat with them. He said Williams knew who all the officers were but didn’t really want to hang with them. Jeff said he would ask the guys stuff like where they were from, about their families etc. Jeff added that he was truly interested in these guys and would just plop himself down in the middle of a bunch of guys eating and start talking. Williams didn’t stick around for a short time either, Jeff said “He would be around for a month going from base to base.” A great personal memory for my son about someone who we all wish would have stuck around longer.

(I don’t own many movies, I usually just wait around for them to come on cable etc. but I do own; http://amzn.to/1rpDluh The Birdcage. I’ve watched it more than I care to admit and even though I can by now recite the lines myself, I still laugh like crazy. I am an Amazon affiliate so I get a tiny percentage off of anything you purchase though my link.

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August 13, 2014 · 3:41 pm

The Ghost of Print Magazines Past

Sometimes my life flashes before my eyes in glossy form. Just like in the pages of a magazine, or more accurately, the pages of magazines past. The magazines that are gone but not forgotten, at least by me. I don’t just mean Look magazine or Life that everyone’s mother and grandmother read I mean the important magazines that got me through my teen years like Teen and Seventeen. The magazines that told me what I should be wearing even though I either wasn’t allowed to or couldn’t afford to comply. The magazines that showed me how to apply make-up before I was even allowed to purchase a mascara wand. Yeah, those magazines. They are all Kaput.

We didn’t have a lot of extra money as a kid but whenever Teen magazine came out my mom would come home from the grocery store with it tucked into her paper grocery bag. I would thank her profusely and race up to my bedroom, flop on my bed and read it very slowly, savoring each page. I would read about the latest teen idol, music, movies, fashion etc. It was the best 35-cent entertainment in my world.

While the older crowd was flipping the pages of the Saturday Evening Post, Colliers, Better Homes and Gardens, McCalls and Ladies’Home Journal (all defunct) I had moved on to Mad magazine for my humor and Cosmopolitan for the love, sex and how to marry a millionaire stuff. For really covert stuff my sister and I used to visit a friend’s summer cottage and find such delights as True Confessions, True Story, True Romances etc. hidden under chair cushions so the “kids” wouldn’t read them. These we felt were quite interesting if not necessarily believable despite the “True” title. We however, thought they were great summer reading. Of course at some point I grew up and started reading news magazines, literary magazines, women’s magazines and of course, decorating and home magazines since I loved DIY decorating. But, many of them have died a print death with some resurrecting online. I mean, I scan a website but I read a magazine.

So, while “foodies” still mourn the demise of Gourmet Magazine you can get your recipes online at a million different sites complete with pictures that you can’t really feel between your fingers but hey, that’s digital progress. Due to the recession (the one experts said we weren’t having) the last few years, general interest magazines were waning as advertisers were falling by the wayside and/or looking for new places to put their ad revenue. Niche marketing magazines whether online or in print seems to be what’s popular today.

If you write, bike, hike or draw tattoos a magazine exists for you. Some are print but many now have an online presence. Demographics have changed and so have the devices changed that bring us our news/entertainment information. I know the answer is that the print world and digital world should mesh. But sometimes I just like to open a magazine that I don’t have to connect to, download, worry about batteries or software glitches or all that cloud stuff, and just throw the damn magazine in my purse and be on my way.

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July 14, 2014 · 2:24 pm

Summer In Chicago 1950’s style

 

I grew up in the city although it didn’t seem all that urban to me. What I though urban meant as a kid didn’t connect in my kid-brain with the tree-lined streets, lush lawns of Marian Blue grass or Creeping Bent and the Georgians, Cape Cods and Ranch style brick homes of my neighborhood.

My neighborhood was a direct result of much-needed housing for those returning from WWII who married, started having kids, in many cases lots of kids and yes, everybody knew our name. It was the law of the land I guess so our neighbors could tell our parents that we walked on their grass or tried to climb their tree or walked between parked cars or God forbid, rode our bikes in the street. We didn’t know it then of course, but we were the baby boomers.

It was a working class neighborhood for the most part with a few professionals thrown in for good measure. You could always tell who made a little more money, their houses were just a little bit fancier than the rest.  Oh yeah, everyone was Catholic. Some even wore their Catholicism on their front lawns, in the form of statues. These were usually the Italians, the Irish thought such outdoor displays tacky yet every room in their houses claimed enough crucifixes, rosary beads, holy cards, holy medals, holy statues and palms from Palm Sundays past to outfit a new church. Tacky? In many cases overkill too, but I’m Irish so I can say such things.

Everyone had a front porch or as some called it a front stoop. Folks would sit on it and talk, or watch kids play or read the daily metro newspaper. Lawn furniture? I never saw anyone with lawn furniture, not even on their lawn. Lawn furniture was up at my grandparents cottage. It was hard and metal and the back was shaped like a shell. But, in the city we sat on the cement porch.

Everyone played outside all day almost every day, especially in the summer. We found plenty to do with bats and balls, Hula Hoops, jump ropes, roller skates, chalk, dolls, trucks and toy guns. Some of us had dancing lessons or organized baseball or softball but we weren’t carted around daily by our parents so we would have stuff to do. The neighborhood was safe, we didn’t always lock the doors and we played in the alley with marbles because they would roll better. When the streetlights came on we knew we had to go inside because well, just because that was the unwritten rule for anyone that wasn’t a big kid.

My sister and I were going to take a trip back to the old neighborhood last week to see what our old house looked like now. She and my brother had been back more recently than me and of course we keep tabs on it through the news. I’m no spring chicken and I was worried about what we might see or encounter even in broad daylight. I figured two old ladies, even in a car could look like an easy mark. She agreed. We figured maybe we should spend our twilight years remembering the good times in a great neighborhood, rather than face the reality of toy guns that have turned into real guns. Alley games have now been replaced by drug deals and sitting on your front porch can make you a gang target even if you never met a gang member in your life. The streetlights rarely go on as many of them have been shot out and now what I thought urban meant as a kid is a far seedier, grittier, unsafe version of reality for my old neighborhood than what was in my mind’s eye as city life.  My old Chicago neighborhood is like a war zone and I can only hope and pray the good guys win.

My brother sent me this DVD;  http://amzn.to/1qzaaRz called Chicago, the Boomer Years. I think you can only get it used on Amazon as the PBS Chicago channel sells it for much more new.  It sure is a riot to watch if you are a boomer. I am an Amazon affiliate so I get a small commission if you purchase through my link.  My brother said he sent it because he remembers me and my sister wearing funny hats to church and saw some just like ours in the DVD. They were like a scarf with flower petals and we thought we were quite fashionable  little kids in the 1950’s.

 

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July 7, 2014 · 11:07 am