October 2018 – Quote of the Month

“Listen to them — the children of the night. What music they make.”

~ Bram Stoker

Dracula

Penny-ante

I shop a lot with Amazon. A lot. – With few exceptions, I go to Amazon for 95% of my non-perishable purchases.

But for some things, I still like to have an in-person experience. These things include: TVs and monitors (for first hand viewing of image quality), audio gear (hearing is believing), furniture  and vehicles (for a sense of mass and aesthetic details that aren’t easily translated in photos), home maintenance like lumber and yard care (due to bulk)  and shoes and clothes (for fit).

It is for the last of these: clothes – specifically: some jeans, that I found myself at J. C. Penney.

Now, people who care about fashion, most likely snort and turn up their nose at Penneys; but I’ve never been one to care very much about clothes nor branding. (A fact, I’m sure, is probably all too obvious for those who see me.) Penneys have always been a simple, affordable option. Unfortunately, increasingly, too many local brick and mortar shops have been failing in their value and Penneys has been on the same downward spiral.

This makes me sad, because I can appreciate the loss of local retail, even big-box retail to Amazon, but my shopping experience for jeans is surely an example of why  brick and mortar stores are getting their asses kicked.

The fundamental disappointment I encountered with Penneys was the lack of service. – Caused, by the store being short staffed. There was no one in sight in the mens’ section, and I was left to find it by myself, and comb through the jeans for style and fit without an offer of help. Next: the dressing room was dingy and unkempt. The pincushion on the wall looked liked it hadn’t been cleared for who knows how long. Other pins were littered on the floor.

J. C. Penney's dressing room pincushion

Finally, at checkout, the line was about four people deep, with a single clerk working to resolve a customer’s problems, leaving me to wait for about 20 minutes to get rung out. And when they did tally my sale, the sales promotion didn’t ring up correctly and I had to have it redone. (An error that I noticed: not the clerk.)

Now, I list these ‘grievances’, fully aware that they fall into the category of ‘first-world-problems.’ But that isn’t my point. My point isn’t that this isn’t any kind of real suffering but rather: to highlight why I think stores like these are failing.

With Amazon, I could have saved myself a 30 minute drive to the mall.  (x 2 for return trip home.) – I could have shopped from my phone anywhere I was. With Amazon, I could have filtered and sorted my choices within seconds. With Amazon, I could have just as easily shopped for a Gummy Bear anatomy puzzle or a vinyl wall decal of an Asian businessperson. With Amazon, I could have checked-out with a click of a button.

Yes, with Amazon I would be waiting two days for them to arrive but 99.9% of the time: I can wait. So, the only real remaining shortcoming with Amazon is the hassle if I have to return a product.

But consistently, where Penneys should have shined: they failed – customer service.

I can’t help but think that some CEO made a short-term decision to cut staff at Penneys to ‘help the bottom line.’ And I well imagine that having shown some operational savings, the CEO pulled their golden parachute and drifted away on a cloud of bonus money, leaving the company that much less prepared with a competitive advantage.

Amazon, on the other hand, has sacrificed short term profitability in order to master the world of retail.  This is why they will win.

September 2018 – Quote of the Month

“Oh, life is like that. Sometimes, at the height of our revelries, when our joy is at its zenith, when all is most right with the world, the most unthinkable disasters descend upon us.”

~ Ralphie (Narrator)
A Christmas Story by Jean Shepherd

Carol’s Dating Didn’t Go Well After Mike Brady Left the Family

August 2018 – Quote of the Month

“I don’t want to hear the specials. If they’re so special, put ’em on the menu.”

~ Jerry Seinfeld

Insect Screens Will Not Stop Children from Falling Out of Windows

I love product warnings about obvious things and I wonder if they’ve ever stopped a single injury. I figure if you’re not smart enough to figure it out on your own, you’re probably not smart enough to heed a warning. – Assuming you’re able to read in the first place.

Of course, the reality is that these stickers aren’t put on products to warn stupid people. They are put on to protect companies from lawsuits from stupid people.

I spotted this warning a few years ago in an office building and just recently uncovered it as I was combing through old iPhone photos:

Waning Open Windows Can Be Hazardous. Failure to heed this warning may result in personal injury or death. Insect screens will not stop children from falling out of windows. Keep children away from open windows.

Warning open Windows can be hazardous. Failure to heed this may result in personal injury or death.

Insect screens will not stop children from falling out of windows. Keep children away from open windows.

Insect screens will not stop children from falling out of windows. Keep children away from open windows.

 

July 2018 – Quote of the Month

“Many religions now come before us with ingratiating smirks and outspread hands, like an unctuous merchant in a bazaar. They offer consolation and solidarity and uplift, competing as they do in a marketplace. But we have a right to remember how barbarically they behaved when they were strong and were making an offer that people could not refuse.”

~Christopher Hitchens

And the Award for Most Wasteful Packaging Goes To…

The chain we use to hang our hammock has gotten tight as the trees have grown. I decided to replace them with webbing. So, along with a number of other items, I ordered two climbing slings at the same time.

I received a few boxes including one each for the webbing slings.  It was actually depressing: I felt like I burned an acre of rainforest.

Wasteful Amazon packaging for climbing slings.

June 2018 – Quote of the Month

“Thus mystery is made a convenient cover for absurdity.”

~John Adams

Dismembered Drawings

I’ve been doing some significant reorganization which has required combing through lots of stuff I haven’t looked at for ages. Among some of the containers I found old drawings. Here are two that I did – probably when I was in eighth grade. I’m pretty sure that the drawings that I did then would not pass the new ‘zero-tolerance’ standards of today’s schools. but I turned out alright. Mostly.

Dismembered finger drawing

Dismembered finger drawing.

Dismembered eyeball drawing

Dismembered eyeball drawing.

May 2018 – Quote of the Month

“Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today.”

~Will Rogers

17 Years of Whistling into the Wind

Happy 17th Anniversary my dear old website.

Another year and this website will be the age of consent. They grow up so fast.

“I still blog, but I do think blogging will become obsolete, as there are more ways of interacting on the Web with low barriers to entry for people to engage and participate.”

~ Biz Stone

“I think blogging, by and large, is basically therapy. And I’m sure, and I know, that there are some terrific bloggers and some legitimate bloggers. But I think, by and large, a huge percentage of people who are blogging are doing it for self-therapy.”

~Mike Barnicle

 

April 2018 – Quote of the Month

“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”

~Alice Walker

Mayberry STD

I love the little oddities that get uncovered by watching old TV shows. On the treadmill the other day, I was watching an episode of The Andy Griffith Show where Andy has an argument with Peggy and Barney tries to make things better by setting him up with another girl. Naturally, the girl is a train-wreck mismatch culminating in this line of dialog which caused me to stop my run and take a photo of the screen.

When I go out into the sun, I get the herpes. - Andy Griffith Show - Barney Mends a Broken Heart

When I go out into the sun, I get the herpes.

March 2018 – Quote of the Month

“‘Time does not tarry ever,’ he said; ‘but change and growth is not in all things and places alike. For the Elves the world moves, and it moves both very swift and very slow. Swift, because they themselves change little, and all else fleets by: it is a grief to them. Slow, because they do not count the running years, not for themselves. Yet beneath the Sun all things must wear to an end at last.'”

~Legolas
The Great River
The Fellowship of the Ring
The Lord of the Rings
J.R.R. Tolkien

The Love Boat Promises Something for Everyone

I like watching old TV shows before I got to bed. Something about them helps me relax. So, I’ve been queuing up random shows in the DVR including Hogan’s Heroes, Columbo, Different Strokes among others.

The shows are wonderful time capsules: often with hidden marvels. – Sometimes the shows are remarkably clever, others are so bad that it’s stunning to imagine how many people tuned into these shows for years.  This latter point brings me to The Love Boat: a show that ran  for nine years – from May 5, 1977, until May 24, 1986 (with three-hour specials aired in 1986–87 and 1990).

The Love Boat Title Screen - February 1 1986

The episode that I recorded had a trifecta title, “Miss Mom/Who’s the Champ/Gopher’s Delusion“.  It was first released on February 1, 1986.

The cast was surreal. My, how some things have changed…

IMDB credits Caitlyn Jenner as the wrestler “Lover Boy Bob” (as Bruce Jenner).

Bruce Jenner in The Love Boat

In the story arc, “Who’s the Champ”, Lover Boy Bob is wooing another wrestler’s sister. And both wrestlers Lover Boy and the ‘The Mangler’ Sharkey (played by Tim Rossovich) are smacked around by none other than Hulk Hogan before the sister, Linda Sharkey (played by Jennifer Holmes) settles the dispute by locking them into a steam room together.

 

And of course, the show wouldn’t be complete without the patron saint of shark jumping: Ted McGinley.

Ted McGinley in The Love Boat

 

“Love, exciting and new
Come Aboard. We’re expecting you.
And Love, life’s sweetest reward.
Let it flow, it floats back to you.

Love Boat soon will be making another run
The Love Boat promises something for everyone
Set a course for adventure,
Your mind on a new romance.

And Love won’t hurt anymore
It’s an open smile on a friendly shore.
Yes LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE!

Welcome Aboard. It’s LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE!”

 

 

February 2018 – Quote of the Month

“The suspense is terrible. I hope it will last.”

~Oscar Wilde

Nobody Puts Baby in a Box

Doing some more organizing around the house which means more bins and labels!

Sterilite container with lid inside

I have to say, this warning label has saved me from a lot of embarrassing situations…

Sterilite container lid baby warning Seriously though: every hospital should have to show this label to every parent of a newborn before allowing the parents to take the baby home. The parents should be asked if they find the label useful. If the answer is, ‘yes’, then they should not be allowed to take the kid home. *

* Editorial Note: Yes, I’m being glib about a warning that almost certainly has arisen from some very sad circumstances. – I’m just not sure that such a label is ever going to make a difference in such cases. 

~ Editorial Note 2: I think I may have written about this before but it never ceases to strike me as surreal. Apologies for any redundancies. 

January 2018 – Quote of the Month

“There is no charm equal to tenderness of heart.”

~Jane Austen

Containers, Label Makers and Severed Heads

Three of my favorite things: organized Sterilite and Hefty containers, my Model PT-D40 Brother Label Maker and Halloween severed heads. Containers, Label Makers and Severed Heads

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