Walmart Finally Figures Out It Isn’t Target

According to a news story in The Wall Street Journal, Walmart is bringing back guns, fishing rods and fabric that it had stopped selling.  When the big remodel was going on with the black shelves replacing the standard beige ones, and the signage switching to bright oranges and greens, I could see that Wally World was trying to mimic Target.

I knew it was a bad idea back then, but who am I to argue with billions of dollars? It’s funny how little old me who isn’t on the board at Walmart saw the decline of the giant retailer coming long before even they did. It comes down to a simple lesson in nature that a fox shouldn’t try to be a rabbit.

Since I could plainly see that the retailer, who was second in the nation in employment only to the US Government, was going to slip, I’m now offering my consulting service to other multi-billion dollar industries. Just kidding.

Actually I thank the Lord for opening my eyes to see what is going on around me in detail. There is no random occurrence. We just don’t know all of the variables to plug into an equation. There is so much to see if you just look.

State of the Union

Here is an empty car lot in Ripley, West Virginia. Jeff Sorn, who is a used car dealer next door, told me this used to be the biggest GM dealer in the region with 2000 cars on this now empty lot.  He also told me that he used to work there and the dealership employed 150 people.

Times are a changin’.

(Click on image for full size).

A Valuable Emerald

I was talking to my friend Frank Menhart Jr. today. He is a minister of the Gospel and was on his way to northern Pennsylvania to preach tomorrow. I was telling him how I took the emerald out of an old ring my wife and I bought for my mom a very long time ago. My mom passed away in 2007. She really liked jewelry whether it was real or costume.

It is unlikely that anyone would ever wear the ring again so I took out the emerald to use in a future painting that I haven’t painted yet. Artwork to me has more value than the ring. The stone of the ring had more value to me than the metal that held the stone. The stone holds more value because it is my mom’s birthstone. Even more so because it is a Chatham emerald.

Chatham emeralds are not naturally occurring gemstones. They are created in a lab. It is a real emerald, just created in a lab. They typically have more clarity. They are grown at about a rate of 1 millimeter per month on a colorless beryl seed crystal. That kind of stuff is right up my alley of interest. So having a lab created emerald that my mom cherished has value to me. Having it become part of artwork that I will create just adds to the value.

However, no object has eternal value. None of it will go with me when I die. The only thing that will go with me is the meaning behind the value that I have attributed to things. The real value is in the relationship. The real value is in the memories. The object is a token that prompts the recall of memories. Artwork is an expression of established memories.

Eternal value is what I seek now. There is value in my faith in Christ. I have a hope and a future. I am eternally established with God through what Jesus did for me on the cross. Where and in what do your values rest?

Dangerous Stuff at the Dollar Store?

I made the mistake of buying some bulbs at one of those stores where each item is a dollar. We bought some candelabra type bulbs for a ceiling fan light that were branded with the Sunbeam name. My thinking at the time of the purchase was how they were just bulbs, so what could be the problem? It’s not like I was buying food of some brand I never heard.

The reason I’m writing this is because there have been some television news segments and print stories touting the great buys that can be found when shopping at the stores where each item is only a dollar. Since the economic downfall, I have heard of the benefits and great deals to be found at these retail stores. However, maybe there are some things that just are not worth buying at a such a store.

The shelves are packed with items that appear to not be popular enough to get sold out at regular prices at other retail outlets. However, could there be another reason why the shelves are packed with products for only a dollar? Could there have been other issues preventing the products from being sold in other retail stores? I’ve seen products in mislabeled or misspelled packaging. That isn’t a big deal. Many things are made and packaged in China, so packaging typos are not a problem with the product.

My Sunbeam bulbs appeared to be in packaging that was okay. No issues with misspelled words was found.  In this case, it was the product that had a problem. The bulbs worked okay as far as lighting up but when I went to replace one that eventually burned out, the glue holding the glass bulb to the metal base had separated from the glass bulb.

The bulb was loose in the metal base. I checked the ones still in the fixture that were not burned out, and all of the bulbs had come loose from the metal bases. They were just being held in place by the bare wires coming out of the base of the glass bulb. I had to shut off the power to the fixture and use a tool to remove one bulb that came completely out of its base when I tried to unscrew it.

Take a look at the photos:

Failed Sunbeam bulbs from retail store where products are a dollar each. Two unused ones on left.
Sunbeam bulb base showing the glue.
Closeup of Sunbeam bulb with glass separated from metal base.
Closeup of glue in metal base of Sunbeam bulb.

I’m sticking to paper products and maybe a few other non-electrical products the next time I shop at a store where everything is a dollar. I wonder how those Sunbeam bulbs got to the store in the first place? Did Sunbeam or the purchasing department for the store know that there was an issue? This is a fire and electrical shock hazard. Sometimes a discount just isn’t worth it. It wasn’t just one bulb that had the problem.  All of the Sunbeam bulbs I put in the ceiling fan that were purchased at the dollar store had the glass come loose from the metal base.  Are we being sold products that are known by manufacturers or distributors to have safety problem? All I can say right now is buyer beware.

Can You Survive The Cold?

In spite of the warnings about winter cold all over the news and websites, it is apparent to me that the average person who has never been in a survival situation does not take time to even slightly prepare.  I have an arctic rated parka in the back of my vehicle that I can sleep in if necessary.

I asked the teenage daughter of a friend of  mine who was driving through the country on a recent frigid winter morning if she was prepared to survive a walk in the cold or if she would she freeze to death.  She was on her way to work and dressed for the running vehicle that was going to be warm in just a few minutes and for the warm building she was going to be working in. She was not prepared to have to hike even a mile in the cold or to maintain body temperature if she slipped off the road and down over one of the steep hills. She said she would probably freeze.

Winter clothing is bulky. It is uncomfortable to wear inside a vehicle with the heater on. It is restrictive to the normal movements of driving. It is okay to not wear it in the car. However, it should be in the back seat of the vehicle and not in the trunk. If you are trapped in an accident there still exists the high likelihood of being able to retrieve something just behind you in the back seat. No sense freezing to death because blankets or a parka were in the trunk.

Keep a spare set of boots that are sturdy and warm enough to walk in snow, slush and water without allowing your feet to get wet or cold. If you leave home in a suit or skirt or other clothing not suited for winter survival, pack some jeans, a pair of sweatpants that will fit over the jeans, heavy socks, a t-shirt and sweatshirt and a fleece jacket to change into if you get stuck. Those layers will work well with the parka. You have to have a heavy winter coat or parka for frigid cold and wind. Don’t forget a heavy knit hat and waterproof winter gloves or mittens.

Packed down in one of those vacuum bags, the stuff doesn’t take up much room. You may never need it, but if you do need it you will really need it. Don’t be stupid. At least throw in the vehicle a good winter coat along with a hat and gloves kept in the pocket of the coat. It could save your life on some frigid winter or night.

Super Bowl XLV Problems

Being from southwestern Pennsylvania we are Steeler fans. That is to put it mildly. The fans who couldn’t get into the Super Bowl who had tickets was just wrong. Of course there is going to be a problem when fans are sold tickets for seats that do not yet exist. The powers that be apparently hoped that the seats would be installed before game time but they weren’t. A tiny disclaimer on the back of the Super Bowl ticket warns that one may not get the seat they bought. That would be an understatement.

The NFL and others who claim responsibility for the seats that tickets were sold, but where no seat was actually physically installed, have agreed to provide different things to appease the insulted and disgusted fans. Everything from three times the face value of the tickets to tickets to next year’s Super Bowl have been offered.

Three times face value is not enough for someone who bought plane tickets, booked a room, lost vacation time at work, paid more than face value for their ticket for a chance of a lifetime, and who had the expected experience of the Super Bowl denied them. However, my wife has come up with a great idea that might be appealing to the fans who flew across the country to not have a seat at the game.

My wife suggested that the actual Super Bowl expenses be covered and the league also plan a get-together for the fans to have a day with their team. Okay, maybe not the whole team, but the fan favorites. Pay for their flights and rooms. Have the event at an undisclosed location with limited media access. After all, this one will be all about the fans. The players will volunteer their day and evening. The fans get a dinner with the players, a meet-and-greet, and for once, a no hassle chance at autographs.

The league, players, stadium and others involved that permitted the fiasco to occur need to step up and do the right thing. Hey, I don’t have a problem that my wife and I won’t be invited. We weren’t going to the Super Bowl anyway. We don’t have that kind of money. The fans that did try to make it out to support the Steelers and the Packers need to have the NFL and all involved make it right by the fans who did not have seats to go with their Super Bowl tickets. It’s only a few hundred fans. It’s not that hard of a thing to pull off.

I tell you what, my wife and I volunteer to bring warm towels for the players who get a cramp signing autographs at the makeup event for the fans who got turned away at the Super Bowl. This is a multi-billion dollar business. Who do the NFL and the players think are the ones that pays for all of it? It’s us—the ones who go to games, buy NFL products, and are patrons of the sponsors. Do the right thing.

Easy Homesteading Start

I don’t have any pictures to go along with this entry, and I know folks just really like pictures. However, this is an easy read and won’t take too long.

There are lots of us who want to become more self-sufficient. We want to know that we can produce for ourselves. It actually is less expensive and much less time consuming to just go out and buy most of our food from the store. However, the cost does depend on the food items, where we are located geographically in this Great Land, and the season.

To just grow a plot of green beans and can them for use during the non-growing season would be a considerable investment in time and materials. Even if we got the seeds for free and planted them in an existing garden, the cost for canning equipment can make the beans more costly than ones already canned at the store.

Infrastructure for homesteading should be acquired over time. Most of it is skills, but there are some tools and consumer products that we can’t produce ourselves that make homesteading viable. Whereas our long dead ancestors may have made every implement from the containers to the tools used to acquire and preserve food, we need to buy some things such as canning jars for the food and shovels for the garden.

That stuff costs money. Money may be tight. It often can be for the person who is seriously considering becoming more self-sufficient. This quandary may cause some to just give up and have to settle for what I call “cheap commercial.” That is falling into having to settle for lower quality, less expensive foods at the store in order just to eat. I’ll be honest. When I lost my so-called day-job that provided the steady income and health insurance, we took a hit on the quality of food we are able to buy. Growing my own vegetables now sounds much more appealing than it ever did.

You don’t have to have a fortune to get started homesteading. I’m asking everyone who reads this to at least plant a tomato plant this spring. Even if you can’t stand tomatoes, you can be sure there is a neighbor or friend who really likes them. Even planting one tomato plant in a sunny spot can yield a bunch of fruit. Plant one in a five gallon bucket with a hole in the bottom for drainage. Stick it in a sunny spot and be disciplined about watering it. You will get a little taste of the fruits of homesteading and the discipline and labor it requires. Commitment will become evident in how well the tomato plant does.