The so-called “new normal”

everyone can toil from home?

social distancing instrumentsIt may well be true, but I bristle at the term the “new normal”. It seems so defeatist. Meanwhile, I make my peculiar weekly trek to the grocery store during the “old people’s time” of 6 to 7 a.m.

What I’ve observed is this: People walking their dogs tend to head to the street when I am strolling on the sidewalk. I appreciate the effort. Perhaps they have friendly canines who want to be petted. That would mean I might get too close to the owner.

The irony in physical distancing is that little old ladies still avoid me. But it’s not because they think I’m going to mug them, but because they think I might infect and kill them. Progress, I guess?

I’ve spent so much effort doing a pas a deux with the folks stocking the produce that I manage to forget to get bananas. (“COVID-19 makes me bananas.”) Meh, still no TP. Heck, no paper products of any type. I may actually NEED some by the end of May.

And my checkout mojo’s all out of whack from social distancing, as I wait until the person in front of me is nearly done before putting my items on the conveyor belt. I almost neglected to get my discount card scanned, and I nearly forget to put the credit card in the appropriate slot.

Work all day

The ability to learn from home is great and remarkable. But because the technology is available, my wife was scheduled for THREE hour-long meetings one day this past week. One was canceled, but still. Just because you CAN schedule meetings does not mean you must.

My wife is working harder now online than she did as an in-person ENL teacher. Between the noon and 2 pm meetings, a parent returned her call. She barely ate lunch. Oh, and she also had a church meeting that night, with our pastors canceling their long-planned sabbatical.

Newsweek suggests that the coronavirus will “change how we work forever.” And not necessarily for the better. If everyone can ostensibly toil from home, then we won’t need as many snow days. It may make us more “productive”, but at what cost? Americans in general already suck at the work/life balance thing.

Mic check, please

Part of my “new normal” regimen involves press conferences, on television every single day. I do not watch them. I’ll get the gist of them from print news. This is entirely a health issue.

If I see him lying that he didn’t say what he said two weeks ago, it will just upset me. If I read that he’s prevaricating, it’s much less toxic to me. No less reprehensible, just less aggravating.

Besides, if he’s going to boast about TV ratings, as he berates the media as thousands are dying, why watch? Some of my friends want media outlets to stop covering him. I’m ambivalent. For every four bits of dissembling, he says one thing actually useful and more or less true.

And for those who worry that Dr. Anthony Fauci is being silenced or that Dr. Deborah Birx is being too conciliatory, know that they are hostages. But they have what djt wants — “credit, adulation, the appearance of scientific expertise. And their survival means our survival.” So if AF is less prickly or DB more diplomatic, they’re playing the long game of being heard.

June rambling #1: Seven and Seven Is

Once I could have told you ALL the guys with 500+ homers.

Geez, I forgot to mention that I got together with some former JEOPARDY! contestants on the first Friday in May at a bar in Albany. I remember that because I had to rush from the First Friday event at my church. Anyway, nice people. Yes, and smart.

Mark Evanier writes about being The Advocate — “the functional person who handles everything for the sick person. I had to watch over their needs, get them whatever they required, intervene with the hospital and caregivers when necessary and run the aspects of their lives they could no longer handle, including personal finances. In simpler terms, I had to just be there for them.” Maybe I got a little teary.

I was going to write why I think the US pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement won’t be that bad, since mayors and governors and industry will step up. But with The Weekly Sift guy explaining The Paris Agreement is like my church’s pledge drive, plus what John Oliver said (or here), and what Hank Green said and what Ben & Jerry wrote and what Arthur wrote, I’m not feeling compelled.

Covfefe department: Do trademarks present an ethical violation? These probably do. Plus the swamp and failed Twitter intervention and the corrosive privilege of the most mocked man in the world.

Chuck Miller, my former Times Union blogger buddy – we’re still buds, but he’s not with the TU blogs anymore, explained in these pages in early April. Anyway, he is doing a new thing, and I am mentioned. The only problem is that he didn’t link to a certain song, so I did, below.

Chuck also writes about Teri Conroy, who also used to be in the TU blog farm. I’ve met her and she really IS a saint.

Su-sieee! Mac, one our ABC Wednesday participants: “Am I allowed to say I’m a cancer survivor when I didn’t know I had cancer?”

My local library branch (Pine Hills in Albany) gets a new art installation every few months. Among the artists this go round is Peach Tao, whose dinosaur woodcuts are really cool. I went to the opening on June 2. The art will be there until October 28.

Jaquandor has been doing his Bad Joke Friday for a while. Some are quite terrible. So naturally, sometimes I encourage him.

Albert Pujols became the ninth hitter in Major League Baseball to hit 600 or more home runs. Once I could have told you ALL the guys with 500+ homers, which used to be a lock for the Baseball Hall of Fame*. But as a result of the era of performance-enhancing drugs, Bonds and Sosa, for two, have not yet made it.
1 Barry Bonds 762
2 Hank Aaron * 755
3 Babe Ruth * 714
4 Alex Rodriguez 696
5 Willie Mays * 660
6 Ken Griffey, Jr.* 630
7 Jim Thome 612
8 Sammy Sosa 609

What Does Wonder Woman Actually Represent? and Revisiting the story that redefined her. Reckon Eddie and I need to see this movie.

The first shopping cart was introduced in OKC 80 years ago this week.


Dustbury expands on my reference to Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood.

Liverpool Plays Pepper (link good only in June 2017) and When I’m Sixty-Four – MonaLisa Twins and Sgt. Pepper at 50.

Hey, Animaniacs, shouldn’t it be 50 state capitals, plus the federal one?

K-Chuck Radio: The Adjustments of Popular Songs.

Seven and Seven Is – Love. (CM)

How Gregg Allman and Cher stunned Canisius High ‘assembly’ in 1976.

W is for Wal-Mart, or Walmart

I find it odd that it has banned music with explicit lyrics, yet carries a full complement of assault weaponry that has recently included the Bushmaster AR-15.

One of my sisters is one of the greatest Walmart shoppers in the country. She and my late mother have gone to dozens of store in the southeastern United States. I remember a visit they made to Albany a few years back – probably just after the Daughter was born – and they wanted to go to the local Walmart EVERY SINGLE DAY they were in town. And this was the previous Walmart, NOT the one expanded in 2008 to be the largest Walmart Supercenter in the United States.

Whereas I’m not quite as enthusiastic. I rather like the success story of Sam Walton, going from a single store to become the largest private employer in the world with over two million employees. But some of the company policies have made me wary.

I recall reading in the 1990s about Walmart entering towns in the Midwest, driving out the local hardware store and other merchants. When it found a Walmart store was not profitable enough, it would pull out of the market, leaving the towns much worse off than they were when it arrived. Now that Walmart is having declining sales, this seems like a scenario that could be replicated. Its aggressive price challenge is aggravating its competitors, who claim Walmart has misrepresented the facts.

I find it odd that it has banned music with explicit lyrics, yet carries a full complement of assault weaponry that has recently included the Bushmaster AR-15, which was used in the Sandy Hook (Connecticut) Elementary School shooting and several other high-profile mass killings.

Walmart, many claim, is the epitome of economic inequity, when they could easily afford to pay their employees better, which led to the largest employee strike ever last autumn, and more actions in the spring, and again around this Thanksgiving. It’s clear that Wal-Mart’s low wages cost taxpayers money. By comparison, Mark Evanier and the Daily Kos tout Costco as a much better corporate entity.

Those Walton billionaires, sons and daughters of Sam, are bankrolling a number of controversial actions such as school “reform” efforts in Los Angeles.

Still, my personal antipathy has less to do with any of that than the one and only time I went to Walmart willingly. It was the autumn of 1994. I had just had a painful romantic breakup, and I needed a bunch of household items. Someone said that I should go to Walmart, which had opened only the year before in our area.

I took the bus out to the locale and started filling the shopping cart. I went home with several bags of stuff. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized that I was missing a bag. I called Walmart, and they found my missing merchandise at the register. It was too late to take the bus back to Walmart, but I said I would return the following day.

The next afternoon, I arrived at Walmart and waited for someone to get my bag from the manager’s office, where I was told my stuff would be. After at least a half-hour, I was told they couldn’t find my bag. But I could go back through the store and get the stuff again.

Now I hated going through the store the first time. Going through a second time, trying to find the SPECIFIC items I had purchased the day before was really difficult. The first time, I was just going up and down the aisles; this time, I had to try to match my previous purchases in terms of size and brand, and price; what a pain! I’ve never shopped there, or any Walmart, willingly since, as I find it too big for my taste.

And to answer the question of a hyphen or no hyphen in the name: Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT) [is] branded as Walmart.
A unified theory of shoving.

ABC Wednesday – Round 13

Reacting badly to “door busters”

The intrusion of shopping on the previously perfect holiday of Thanksgiving infuriates me.

Apparently, I have an almost irrational loathing for the phrase “door busters.” I’ve heard it before, but this season, it is so pervasive, even though I rarely watch live TV. Just talking about it with someone at work, I’m told I spoke of the word VERY LOUDLY.

It’s the idea that, in order to be a good consumer, one needs to aggressively bash in the store’s entryway. Having to fight the crowd to buy “stuff” that may be on sale seems, well, unseemly.

I have gone to Black Friday sales but once, at the insistence of relatives; not only did I despise being stuck in the crowds, none of the items I ostensibly went to purchase were still available at 8 a.m. There’s not even a guarantee that Black Friday sales are such great deals.

The intrusion of shopping on the previously perfect holiday of Thanksgiving infuriates me. The store opening on Thursday at 8 or 9 p.m. means that some underpaid folks have to push themselves away from family and friends to serve frenetic shoppers. That is unless the workers decide to strike.

On the other hand, I can get behind Small Business Saturday. Seems WAY more civilized.


You need a critical mass, patience, and, ideally, an alternative to achieve success in a boycott.

Arthur at AmeriNZ wrote about a possible boycott of the store Target, and the reasons why. (Has anyone written the obvious headline, “Target target of boycott?” Subsequently, sent out this e-mail:

Target, the retail giant, just became one of the very first companies to take advantage of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision allowing unlimited corporate cash in elections.

Target has spent over $150,000 in the Minnesota Governor’s race backing state Rep. Tom Emmer, a far-right Republican who supports Arizona’s draconian immigration law, wants to abolish the minimum wage and even gave money to a fringe group that condoned the execution of gay people.

Target must think customers won’t care. They’re wrong: We do care, and we need to let them know that we want Target—and all corporations—out of our elections.

Will you send a message to Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel telling him that you’re not going to shop at Target unless they stop trying to buy elections? Click here to add your name to the petition.

A lively discussion ensued at Arthur’s blog about the fact that Target has been a gay-friendly place to work, whether boycotts work or are tilting at windmills, and even if you wanted to boycott, say Target, does this mean you end up shopping at, say, Wal-Mart, who have policies others oppose?

  1. Thoughts on the specifics of the Target boycott. At present, I’m inclined to sign a petition, but not yet to boycott.
  2. Have you ever boycotted a product or service? I have, everything from Twinkies (ITT) to lettuce and orange juice. Actually, I’ve also boycotted Wisk detergent because I found their “ring around the collar” commercials so offensive. (But now, my wife buys Tide anyway, so while my technical boycott still exists, for her it’s just product preference.)

  3. Do boycotts ever work? Certainly, the Montgomery bus boycott did in the 1950s. Eventually, the Florida “sunshine tree” growers dumped Anita Bryant as their spokesperson. To some degree, the one against Nestle over baby formula was successful. I’ll contend the boycott against South Africa ultimately helped to end apartheid.

You need a critical mass, patience, and, ideally, an alternative to achieve success. The conversation about Target is that it may be Target, Wal-Mart, and not much else in many small towns.

Please add your collective wisdom.

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