"....the papers strewn across the table, spilling onto the floor in great waves. There, in the center of a ring of chaos, lay an orange cat. A contented, sleeping orange cat.
'So much for any sense of order,' he thought. 'It'll just have to be random.' "
May 06, 2016
All of us could take a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism.
Toughest thing is finding something to write about that's both interesting to READ as well as to WRITE.
Politics twists my nipples. Apparently it envenoms the bloodstream.
Music? My taste is all over the place, yes. The extent doesn't have a matching depth.
Sports? I'm what at best could be called a "homer." Phillies and Flyers. Baseball and Hockey. I can't objectively speak to running a pro squad. It's not in me, much to the embarrassment of a couple cousins more sports-oriented than I.
The only other thing I can think of is fiction. Storytelling. There's a thought.
A long time ago I read in a book somewhere the following punch line to a single panel cartoon. A small boy is standing defiantly in front of his classroom, arms folded across his chest, scowl on his face. The teacher makes a point, kindly: "It's not enough to be a genius, Arthur. You have to be a genius at something."
The book was about writing. I must have read that book forty years ago.
Four decades later, putting words on paper, in print (paychecks!), on screens and napkins, and I'm still dealing with the challenge of finding something to write about.
These days, Black Friday traffic in the morning hours is non-existent.
Example: Baltimore Pike.
Baltimore Pike traffic on any given Saturday morning is heavy. It's faster to park your car at the K-Mart and walk westbound to Oak Avenue, any time after 10AM. That's about a mile and a quarter.
Not on Black Friday morning. If the lights are with you, you're through all the way to Route 420 in 10 minutes. And all along thw way, the stores are empty: aisles clear, registers short-lined. Even the gas lines are...not.
It's been this way ever since the stores along the Pike began opening on Thanksgiving evening and midnight-ish.
Silly merchants THINK they're boosting sales, when all they're really doing is shifting when they make them. All those former morning drivers are sleeping it off.
The Amazon impact won't show up until later: it doesn't seem to impact the traffic jams as much as it does the sales--but if traffic's light around one this afternoon, then the Pike is in trouble.
Regardless, I got this weekend's shopping errands done faster than I would have on a normal Saturday, and a day early to boot.
I am a price tracker. It's a bad habit to get into, because basically it's a time-waster. It feeds into another bad habit: feeling screwed at the market.
It works like this:
We use Bounty paper towels. Prints, full-size sheets.
We buy them at our local BJ's, where to this day I still find the best prices for the product. It is getting harder and harder to find a "full-sized" sheet, let alone a lot of them on a roll.
A full sized sheet was 11x11 inches. And at one time, I could find 96 sheets on a roll, in a 12-roll package, for $19.49. You bought 11,616 square inches of paper towel on each roll for that price. That was in early spring, 2009.
This I know, because that's when my tracking habit latched onto paper towels. It hasn't let go yet.
And I can tell you reliably that the best I can find these days is a 12-roll pack of 81 sheets for $19.99. This by itself translates to being two rolls smaller than the 2009 package. But that was under the old "full size" sheet measure.
Under the Paper Towel Reduction Act*, the definition of a full sized sheet changed in late 2011, to 11x10.4 inches. This took the square inches of paper towel per roll down to 9,266.4 inches. When you get through the math, what you have is a reduction of slightly over 233 11x11 sheets, and that translates to 2.42 rolls based on 2009 measures.
So instead, there are almost two and a half rolls fewer in the package, for about the same price.
I can prove to myself that P&G had been adjusting the shape of the Bounty paper towel downward over the years while it floating the price around the same level. And it doesn't matter at all to P&G that I, as a customer, would prefer the UNadjusted towel and a higher price.
Same goes for everything else. I WANT buy a pound of coffee, a half-gallon of ice cream, a pound of cookies. But I can't, bacause SOMEbody's market research says the price for these things would be too high, would impact negatively on the brand, would reduce sales.
Since the Bounty product is still preferable in our house to other brands, I know there's nothing I can do about it, other than to shake my head in wonder at how stupid Joe Consumer must seem. I know this, and I still tracked it for almost five years.
I have to let go of this. So to that end, here's my tracks for Bounty paper towels at BJs. I write this out, and I can throw away my little book that carries all this crap in it. Unless I want to write about another product. I still have all the data for the half-sheets......
Bounty paper towels, 2 ply, 12 roll package:
96 sheets, 19.49: March 2009 sheet size 11x11"
96 sheets, 19.99 November 2009
96 sheets, 18.31, January 2010
87 sheets, 19.79 September 2010
87 sheets, 19.79, September 2011--Sheet size changes to 11x10.4"
Average: 1.67 goals per game. Goals against: 3.08. Winning 1 out of 4. 29th out of 30 NHL teams.
And is this is an *improvement* over what Laviolette had going.
This team was under the bus BEFORE Berube accepted the challenge of resuscitation.
I'm not prepared to join the chanters calling for Homer's firing--he made a decision NOT to fire his head coach at the end of last year in order to give the guy a chance after a shortened season, and when you look at it on the surface it could have gone either way, then.
I don't believe it was solely the Flyers' goal-scoring habits that got Lavi canned so early into this season--I'm willing to bet it was the stuff taking place at practice--or not taking place. Kimmo Timonen telling a TV reporter that Lavi didn't have the team working on their timing and chemistry with skating and passing drills during the preseason was a shocker.
And if it shocked me, a guy whose offensive strategy consists of yelling "Shoot!" at the TV screen every time a skater hits the top of the circles, I can't imagine that went down very well with upper management at all.
But I'm not going to join the chanters. Why should I? The mechanism has already been set up, regardless of how loudly I, or any other Flyers fan, wants to yell about it.
The addition of Hextall as Assistant GM means Homer is on a virtual one-year deal--maybe half a year if Berube can't get the patient walking by January.
I think everyone in the Flyers organization knows it.
When 38 Studios ploughed into the earth last month, site Gamasutra had what I feel is the most comprehensive detail on the collapse.
A finely detailed piece was released June 1, and is here: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/169444/38_Studios_Downfall_The_Gamasutra_Report.php .
But to truly understand, read this story by a 38 Story spouse--mother, wife and more than collateral damage: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/172303/38_Studios_Spouse_speaks_out.php .
EDIT 4.21.2013: The New York Times released an article on the aftermath of 38 Studios' collapse. I'm not sure how long it'll remain outside any paywall, but here it is: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/21/business/curt-schilling-rhode-island-and-the-fall-of-38-studios.html?pagewanted=1&_r=0
The CDC is reporting( http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss6103a1.htm?s_cid=ss6103a1_w ) a newer, really scary increase in the number of kids affected with Autism. At least, that's what I think the headlines and PSAs are going to start saying sometime soon. (There's a string of television commercials currently running that compares odds of doing certain things vs the odds of a child's autism diagnosis--and these were 1 in 110 ratios.)
Reading the recent report, there's a line that should not be ignored, and I'm afraid it will be, given the way we love a good old-fashioned hysteria. The sentence is presented very early on in the report:
"Because the ADDM Network sites do not make up a nationally representative sample, these combined prevalence estimates should not be generalized to the United States as a whole."
It is echoed deeper in the body copy:
"...the surveillance areas were not selected to be representative of the United States as a whole, nor were they selected to be representative of the states in which they are located."
The report doesn't spend time discussing changes or stretches in the definition of ADS. Simply:
"Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are a group of developmental disabilities characterized by impairments in social interaction and communication and by restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior."
By that definition, any child who doesn't seem to 'fit in' qualifies.
We are playing with children's lives here. Such a soft definition risks nurturing an overreaction, a backlash. One that pits people dismissing any proven spike in autism levels as being manufactured against those faced with dealing with ASDs every day, as already seen here:
""Quirky" is when a kid likes to wear silly hats, or insists on wearing tights with everything, or like to dance and sing at not always appropriate times. That's quirky.
"Quirky" is NOT being unable to dress yourself properly or being unable to BATHE yourself, or sitting on your bed making moaning and grunting noises while rocking back and forth and flipping through toy magazines and then stripping your clothes off and shredding your underwear into teeny tiny bits before having a poop accident and then smearing it all over yourself and your walls. At 11 years old. THAT is Autism. Not "Quirky"."