Sunday, November 27, 2011

Bargain, Bear, Burger

There are several things that happened recently that got me thinking and my anger on a roll.

But that aside, I'd like your opinion on them even if it's different from mine because there are always other ways to view a situation.

1) I was listening to an interview with a corporate CEO the day after Black Friday. He was asked about the increasingly early hours stores now open on that day. He replied that the change in the hours are in response t0 what the public wants. Going by what I saw in interviews and clips on the news it would seem that he was correct. Many people camped out for an incredible amount of time, cutting short their Thanksgiving meals and missing time with "loved ones" to get big discounts.

But I have would have asked him, if the stores offered typical every day sales on Black Friday would the shoppers still rush to the businesses at these God forsaken times? I think not.

How do you feel about Black Friday? Do you go shopping on that day and at what time do you start?

2) New Jersey is once again having a bear hunt starting tomorrow, December 5. New Jersey black bears, which were considered wiped out in the 1970's, made a tremendous comeback in the last few decades - enough to have three hunts conducted in the last decade: 2003, 2005 and 2010. The last hunt set a record for 592 bears killed.

My question is what has happened in the forty + years to cause this tremendous reversal in numbers? I can't seem to find the reason on the sites. Are the numbers correct? There is some controversy about that. I know NJ's population hasn't gone down and has probably extended itself into the surrounding forests. With people come easier meals for a foraging bear who'd not think twice of going into trash cans, dumps and farm fields for some morsel. Could humans have been a large part of the cause? Could they have created dangerous Yogis who are looking for a pic-a-nic basket and not their harder to obtain natural venue?

3)The horse meat inspection ban was lifted this past week. The Huffingtonpost reported "But pro-slaughter activists say the ban had unintended consequences, including an increase in neglect and the abandonment of horses, and that they are scrambling to get a plant going – possibly in Wyoming, North Dakota, Nebraska or Missouri. They estimate a slaughterhouse could open in 30 to 90 days with state approval and eventually as many as 200,000 horses a year could be slaughtered for human consumption. Most of the meat would be shipped to countries in Europe and Asia, including France and Japan".

Maybe it's my romanticized idealism that has me upset with this. Visions of Mr. Ed, Trigger, Flicka and Black Beauty burst into my mind. The thought of slaughtering a horse for food unless there's nothing else to eat just turns my gut. You can't tell me France and Japan can't afford anything better than horse meat.

I can see how the economy could produce more neglected and abandoned horses but to the extent that it helps legitimize the butchering of horses? I doubt it. But that's not the only excuse being used. Sue Wallis, a Wyoming state lawmaker who's the vice president of United Horsemen, said ranchers used to be able to sell horses that were too old or unfit for work to slaughterhouses but now they have to ship them to butchers in Canada and Mexico, where they fetch less than half the price. Wild horses are also captured and sold in order to control herd populations.

The Humane Society has worked hard to protect all horses but the lift was inserted into a spending bill signed by President Obama. I was taught when you take in an animal, no matter what it is, it's your responsibility to take care of it the best you can for the life of that animal. If you can't provide good care you find someone who can. You don't sell it for it's meat, fur, skin or to a breeding mill. But that's me. How do you feel?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

There is a Different Way

With Black Friday fast approaching I thought this letter that was sent to me by a friend was appropriate. I felt some of the ideas were good and should be passed on. Though it is down on products from China you have to admit it's hard to find items made in the USA.

Christmas 2011 -- Birth of a New Tradition As the holidays approach, the giant Asian factories are kicking into high gear to provide Americans with monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods --merchandise that has been produced at the expense of American labor.

This year will be different. This year Americans will give the gift of genuine concern for other Americans. There is no longer an excuse that, at gift giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by American hands. Yes there is! It's time to think outside the box, people.

Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box, wrapped in Chinese produced wrapping paper? Everyone -- yes EVERYONE gets their hair cut. How about gift certificate from your local American hair salon or barber? Gym membership? It's appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some health improvement.

Who wouldn't appreciate getting their car detailed? Small, American owned detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates.

Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plonking down the Benjamin's on a Chinese made flat-screen? Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or driveway plowed all winter, or games at the local golf course. There are hundreds of thousands, owner-run restaurants -- all offering gift certificates. And, if your intended isn't the fancy eatery sort, what about a half dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint.

Remember, folks this isn't about big National chains -- this is about supporting your home town Americans with their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open.

How many people couldn't use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by the American working guy? Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom? Mom would LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady for a day. My computer could use a tune-up, and I KNOW I can find some young guy who is struggling to get his repair business up and running.

OK, you were looking for something more personal. Local crafts people spin their own wool and knit them into scarves. They make jewelry, and pottery and beautiful wooden boxes.

Plan your holiday outings at local, owner operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip. And, how about going out to see a play or ballet at your hometown theatre. Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands.

Honestly, people, do you REALLY need to buy another ten thousand Chinese lights for the house? When you buy a five dollar string of light, about fifty cents stays in the community. If you have those kinds of bucks to burn, leave the mailman, trash guy or babysitter a nice BIG tip.

You see, Christmas is no longer about draining American pockets so that China and other cheap labor countries can build another glittering city. Christmas is now about caring about US, encouraging American small businesses to keep plugging away to follow their dreams. And, when we care about other Americans, we care about our communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways we couldn't imagine.

Can you think of some other ideas for presents that would help other Americans and our economy? Remember November 26th is Shop Small Business Day.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Epiphanies and pumpkins

Are you ever like this? We all have had those flashes. My light bulb moments are usually restricted to metaphors that don't pertain to the story I'm working on. Figures, right? I've got a couple of pages dedicated to them. They're all waiting their turn for the right story.

So c'mon. Fess up. Tell me about some of your epiphanies. Did you go a bit too far like dear old Leo here? After rereading them were they as good as you originally thought? Are they short like my metaphors or are they whole passages? Did they stay in your story or did you write them down for a future work?

*Mr. Boffo is a Joe Martin creation. You can see more of him at