goingplaceslivinglife

Travel, Food, and Slices of Life


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Targeting our Wallets

Maybe it was the way I was raised. Maybe it was years of tight cash flow and different priorities, but I have never been a big television watcher. So, I often do not know much about the latest popular show and definitely do not get assaulted by a lot of commercials.  Recently the games I play on my phone (Words with Friends and Sudoku) have started to run ads. Boo! But since that personal budget constraint makes me feel I have better things to do with $10 than pay to not have ads show.

So, I have been collecting slogans in the past couple of months. I know that the people who design ads are using words, pictures and sound to attract their assumed demographic for their products. I just do not think I fit many of those groupings.  Here’s a small example:

Perfect today, better tomorrow.  I don’t remember the concept being marketed but just looking at the words I think they missed it. What is better than perfect?  If we have perfect today, why change? But since most of us do not have “perfect” I guess some people buy into a better tomorrow with whatever they were pushing.

Luxury has no boundaries. Again, I did not note the item being sold but this reminded me of something my family discussed 22 years ago. (I remember when because I was pregnant with Sam.) We were on a summer vacation (cabins, not camping because of my pregnancy) when the lottery had reached 80 million dollars.  To kill time while we were driving we played the “what if we won” game. With 3 families in attachment, we bought everyone new houses, new cars, set up college funds for the kids and retirement funds for all the adults, went on several trips a year and believe it or not, by the 7th year we had run out of things to do and buy. BUT I reminded them that we, at this level of middle class, had really no idea how the wealthy spend their money.  For example, wouldn’t it be more comfortable to hire a private jet to fly us to Europe than even taking first class on a scheduled airline?  So I understand the concept that I don’t really know about acquiring luxuries.  So exactly whom is being targeted with this ad?

Fake but accurate. What?  I certainly not buying that news and information can be accurate if it is fake.  So let’s play with the idea of eyelashes, hair color, fake fur. All perfectly acceptable, but would you use “accurate” to describe them?

Double means double. This was for a credit card marketing their earned points system. But come on. Single means single. Triple means triple.  Horse means horse, Meaningless drivel is meaningless drivel.

Image result for double means double credit card commercial

Two bucks is better. Really, McDonalds? What is better about $2. Oh, you are flashing photos of your various drinks with whipped cream. So, what are you trying to tell us? They used to be more expensive? They ARE more expensive elsewhere (like Starbucks) and you are implying the quality is the same?  I have no idea. I just know that in the years McDonalds has been in business their prices have gone up, their serving sizes have gone down, and their food just doesn’t taste like the same thing I can fix at home…for less.

Image result for mcdonalds chilled drinks

Enjoy the Go.  Charmin wants you to have a nice experience. LOL  Here’s one that was not televised. I suppose we should be grateful.

So, just a small example of one that I felt were not talking to me.

On the other hand, I have enjoyed AND WATCHED several video ads in full recently. Two were for Audible. One was a woman on a train and the other was a older dude sitting in a cafe. Both listening. Both absorbed. Startling back to reality with some intrusion.  I recognize that feeling.  I haven’t gotten an Audible subscription yet but the next road trip I will.

Image result for audible ad

I also clicked on an ad for an insulated bottle that holds a beer bottle.  Now that product shows up in more ads on my internet feed. Love those cookies, eh?

The point is, ads work. Even for me who is not a big shopper. In the past year I purchased socks that were advertised on Facebook (and love them) and a solar charger that looked like it would work well for my daughter and her dude who do a lot of back country exploring.

But who finds themselves heading to Micky Ds to get some pink stuff?

 


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Buy American

Early in my blog writing a woman who I really didn’t know messaged me “don’t yell. No one listens to someone who is shouting at them.” Or something like that. She became one of my best friends and I trust her judgement often and always.

But it is apparent that many people don’t listen to anything that involves thinking and change.

I will try again, though. I am Taurus = stubborn.

So we have the start of the growing season here. The earth is warming and food crops are being planted. In large mechanized commercial farms, much of planting can be done by machines with one worker covering a large field. And some food crops can be harvested mechanically also.  However, many require hands-on. And that needs a work force.   Part of our national history is the transition from an agrarian economy to an industrial and now a post-industrial economy.  Almost 200 years ago most people living in the United States were involved with farming. You can see what has happened over time. 

In the past twenty years more and more of these farm jobs have gone empty until filled by migrant workers. Many are Latino and here in the Willamette Valley of Oregon we very much recognize that our vineyards, orchards and large commercial food farms need these workers.

It’s hard work. I know. I took a farm hand job three summers ago. Me. At 60 years of age, overweight, arthritic and with a bad back. The high school worker was heading back to school in August and the farmer needed someone until the end of the season. I never had done this kind of work and my body let me know. But this is not impossible work. So anyone who can walk, can bend, can use their hands, can do this work.

However, it seems that in most areas of the country, white people do not want to do this work so much. And so, others fill in. They are not taking jobs away. They are helping feed us. Some are not legal workers. 

Trump ran for President hollering (hey! he yelled and people listened……or maybe they didn’t, but that’s a different blog) that it was important to put America first. That we needed to get rid of all the bad hombres and that has translated into all people who are here without full legal status, no matter the agreements in the past.  Trump supporters have not yet woken up to the fact that when the work force is removed, something will happen.

In this case, it means the food raised here on large farms in the United States most likely will not be successfully harvested. One farmer we know lost his work crew last year when the blueberries matured early. His strawberries matured late. All that is because of the weather. But it meant his picking crew went off to attack the blueberries, which are easier picking than strawberries. He lost thousands of dollars and many of his strawberries rotted on the plants because there was no one to pick them.  This situation will happen again more and more in more places, not necessarily because of the weather but because of a shortage of willing workers.

Trump’s policies are convincing many people without family roots to head back south to their native lands. The risk of imprisonment and deportation is high. So, many people are leaving. There are also many people who are not leaving because they have been here for 20 or more years. Part of their family was born here. Others may have legal status.  The undocumented workers are still here, but there are fewer than before and many are not taking jobs because of the risk of being arrested.

As this situation will exist in the coming months everyone, including Trump and his supporters, are going to feel it. They may be cheering now, but the time is going to come when they realize there may have been a better way. They’re already feeling it in southern California and in Florida where harvests happen several times during the year.

How?

  • Prices will go up. To keep your business and their profits supermarket chains will contract for produce from other countries.
  • Flavor will go down. That long distance produce gets harvested a bit early, a bit green or immature, to give time to the transportation process before it starts to rot. Flavor just does not develop that way. If you buy produce from overseas, you miss the flavor of how it really should taste.
  • Farmers here in the United States will not be able to continue to farm. Or at least to farm food. (Much of the Willamette Valley farmland is used for wine grapes, hops, hazelnuts and landscaping plants.) Farms will fail financially, and the land will go fallow. That will have a ripple effect on the economy, too.

So, Southern and Central California are where the bulk of supermarket produce is grown. And harvested. Or not harvested…and then not shipped to your grocery store. 

So, why do I say BUY AMERICAN when I also am saying food raised here in the US is going to have smaller harvests and higher prices?  Because if we don’t support American farmers we are going to see our food production, like our manufacturing, move offshore.

There are ways to buy produce at affordable prices but it means a commitment to change your shopping pattern. Only you can decide if giving your children and grandchildren a chance to buy American food is important.

Am I exaggerating? Unfortunately, no.  I remember my parents complaining that it was getting harder to buy American made when they replaced our black and white television with a color model in the late 1960s. At that time, Magnavox was only one of a few and they are still in business today.  All the other tvs that are manufactured here are by Asian corporations who have built factories here to save on shipping and other costs.  How did this happen?  Simple-we consumers like to buy based on price, not patriotism.

Yet I bet you believe you are a patriotic American.  Demonstrate it by investing in America’s economy.  This is a consumer driven industry! Buy locally raised food. Go to a website like Localharvest.com to identify when your farmers markets are, where the farms are near you that offer CSAs, where you can pick your own produce. Perhaps this whole discussion is meaningless as most Americans do not eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, but if you do try to eat in a healthy way, this will affect you unless you also grow your own food. 

And get those teenagers to take summer jobs working on farms….they’ll buff up, tone up, and get a great tan!

 

 


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Empty Words without Any Real Meaningful Action

The other day I received a message from someone who was angry that certain words were not used during the Democratic debate. My friend wanted to know what I think about it. Dem debate

I can understand why someone who prefers Republican candidates would notice the absence of these words at the Democratic debate. After all, most not spoken at the Democratic event were used a lot at the two Republican events.  And therein lies one of the profound differences between the people who are enrolled in each party.

The concept of patriotism and liberty is understood but practiced differently. For example, when I lived in the South I was surrounded by people who stood to sing the National Anthem at Little League games. That did not happen at rec soccer games when I lived in Connecticut. But what happened in New England was opening our homes up to refugees when there was a need to escape their countries because of discrimination and fear of death. The welcome to potential New Americans was active. Singing the National Anthem is really nice…..especially if the cheering is after it is finished.jesse-ventura-politician-quote-patriotism-is-voluntary-it-is-aThe concept of the national debt is one few people understand. They know it is horrible. They know it is larger than it should be. They also have no idea what really caused it and how long policies have been affecting it for decades. Most people also have considerable personal debt and live off their credit cards, maxing them out often. Bankruptcies are increasing, as more and more people are trying to find a way to get all their debt forgiven.  Very few people make a budget that works and includes savings. You say you don’t have enough income? Welcome the the problem of the US government where we, the small people, struggle to live on wages that have barely changed in the past 15 years while the top tier not only earn more and more and more but pay way less than they did before Reagan changed the rules.  One reason Democratic administrations were able to reduce the budget deficit (which has increased each Republican administration) is because they close loopholes.  When it comes time in December for the next debt ceiling “crisis” discussion in Congress I know I will hear many people say, “when I don’t have money I have to do without.” Well, help your representative in Congress and inform them which government benefit YOU receive you are willing to give up.  I know when I ask that question at each ciris time, no one ever responds to me.debt_ceiling_word_cloud-e1401716275433

I could do down the list but my point is there is a difference to USING words and living them.

Seriously, I think there are certain messages that we do need to hear from any Presidential candidate.  We need them to be clear about any program they would like to initiate. We need to hear who will benefit and how it will be funded. We need to understand how that Presidential candidate will get cooperation from others in Congress or the states to implement this concept.

We need to hear more than “I will look into all these issues when I get elected” as the most popular Republican candidate has announced. I’m sorry. I want to know my leader will be able to lead.  Hearing a basic plan of action for a problem now is a start.people who careNow, we can go on bashing any and all of these candidates but perhaps first we need to start with ourselves. Back to my spiel, written of before, of living the Golden Rule. Talking a lot about a concept is meaningless if you don’t walk the walk.

So this holiday season, when I see anyone post “I’m putting Christ back into Christmas” I hope they will be prepared for my question. HOW?  And why only at the end of December? Why not live that way year-round?  Few do.

If we can not hold ourselves to a higher standard, what are you expecting to see in our leadership?  And why are you so worried about words and the actions or plan for action is the important part?  Do you ever get the feeling we are only puppets on their strings? That it doesn’t really matter who is in charge because they all manipulate us by using words to incite emotions. Remember to keep your heart attached to your head and think through the words they all say. Is there anything there that indicates a program of action?  Deal with THAT, not empty words.

 


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Let’s Do It Better

Each year, the second Halloween is over, we get bombarded for 6 weeks with the need to be big consumers. The commercials on tv explode, teasing us into believing we just NEED that thing we never thought about five minutes before. The printed ads in the local newspaper or mailed to us via bulk rate paper our house  with colorful pleas to spend spend spend.christmas-shopping-chaos-560x360

If you believe them, Christmas is just not complete without the latest gadgets including technology for toddlers, more boots and clothes for the ladies, more tools for the guys, more makeup and perfume, more ties, more more more.

This year, do it different…..and do it better.

First of all, know your budget and stick to it.

Secondly, make a list of the people you want to purchase for.  Think about their interests, their hobbies, the things that make them happy. Start listening to them NOW if you haven’t been paying attention all year.  And be wise….the latest in fashion accessory for your fashionista may be out of style in a few weeks. Aim for classic to provide long term value.Stress-Free-Christmas-Gift-Master-List

Third, aim for the best quality you can afford. Better to buy ONE gift and one small stocking stuffer than a large volume of junk.  Let’s start teaching about the value of gift-giving as the living symbol of the three wise men.

Finally, buy local. Yes, I know,  it is less expensive to hit the major big box stores. But this year, let’s think about the effect of where we spend our dollars.  Big box stores are national chains with corporate headquarters unlikely to be in your town. So the only employment benefits are probably low paying, possibly minimum wage and maybe also part-time to avoid paying benefits to full time employees.  Many big box stores have corporate deliveries of items from a regional warehouse that does not typically make purchases in your town, so basically for each dollar you spend in that store, only 5-15 cents stays in the local economy.local this holiday

Meanwhile, down on Main Street and in small neighborhood shops you have stores owned by your neighbors. They’ve been there maybe for decades, but probably not.  Our shopping choices killed many downtown stores as we shoppers opted to head to the mall instead.  Many shops are small with eager entrepreneurs who lost their jobs in the recession and are trying to find a way to make a living. The dollar spent there basically gets spent almost in full in your community. shop craft fairIn addition, there are numerous holiday markets and bazaars at this time of year. If you are lucky, you have one in your area that features artist, artisans and craftspeople who produce all the items they sell by hand. Their skill, their talent provides you an unique gift of high value, one of a kind, for that special person on your gift list.  The prices at these markets range from $1 to over $500. I know, I run a holiday market and I see eager craftspeople work hard all year to produce their love in a tangible way. My job is to tease the shoppers to at least come take a look. 

simple gift

Unique might scare you. If you want to be just like everyone else, unique is not for you. But if you are your own person, walk your own walkway, want to stand out from the crowd, this is the place for you.excellence of a gift

 

 


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Changes in our Lifetime: Air Conditioning

If you are of an age, anywhere above 40, you most likely remember living through the summer without air conditioning. Growing up in New Jersey we had some warm spells but the reason we finally got a window unit when I was in high school was to help filter the air to help with my allergies.  It was the ONLY time my sisters wished they had allergies like me……

Each summer from the age of 3 until 16, I traveled with my parents on camping trips around the United States. We slept in a huge heavy canvas tent for years which eventually got replaced with two smaller lighter tents. In 1965 we got our first camper van that snugly slept all 5 of us plus our two boxers. Sometimes we enjoyed setting up wherever we wanted to stop, like crossing the Nevada dessert. Dad pulled off the highway (no interstate expressways in those days) and followed a dirt road a ways, making sure we stayed between the highway and the first rain culvert.  The idea of a camper van opened up new areas to us.our van on daytona beach fl

But we never went to the Deep South because, in the summer, the heat and humidity made things pretty uncomfortable. We visited some areas on trips during school vacations in December and the spring, but no full exploration without air conditioning.

I moved to Nashville in 1975 and my exploration of the Deep South really started.  My first car did not have air conditioning and I would jump in the condo complex pool after my late afternoon drive home. In the summer Memphis often was 90/90…90 degrees and 90% humidity. My hair in those days best resembled Bozo the Clown because of the damp. It was years before I finally got a style that was good for my curly hair and stopped fighting nature for that straight hair look that I never could achieve.

Until air conditioning spread throughout the South is was a laid back place. I lived there in the mid to late 70s and returned to Nashville in 1994. The difference was amazing. During those two decades, air conditioning had given the once sleepy culture a vitality it had not had – ever. There is a reason the South had a reputation for being slow….it was. You HAVE to move slower in the kind of weather that lasts for months and months.heatindex

Once air conditioning became widespread there was a new migration of people in the US. Many people moved south to areas that welcomed them and cities grew. Nashville had a population of 500,000 when I lived there in the late 70s and over a million 20 years later. And that population was much more diverse with people from all over the globe, not just the nation.  This influx of diversity resulted in some new cultural norms in the South,

For example, when I worked for the Tennessee Supreme Court in 1975-1978, a pretty conservative work place, I stood out as a “foreigner” because of my Yankee accent.  (In those days they called me a “Yamn Dankee” and smiled, thinking they were not being rude, bless their hearts.)  I used to fly home to visit my parents and bring back bagels. One day one of my co-workers asked me why I was eating my sandwich on a donut.  I introduced them to bagels and soon I was “importing” 5 dozen each time I flew back from New Jersey to Nashville. In 1994, when we returned to Nashville, it became very apparent things had changed…at least on the surface.  I saw  bagel shops all around town. More surprisingly, I saw many many many multi-racial couples. However,  people were no longer as “polite” as they had been before. They expressed very clearly the things that had changed that they hated. Very few thought the change was good, but they sure did like their air conditioning.

There have been a lot of changes in the past 27 years. At the time, 35% of American homes did not have air conditioning. By 2005 only 15% did not. By 2009, 97% of homes in the South had an air conditioner.

There have been a lot of changes in the past 27 years.
At the time, 35% of American homes did not have air conditioning. By 2005 only 15% did not. By 2009, 97% of homes in the South had an air conditioner.

 

As this climate change happens and various areas of the country experienced a hotter than typical summer through it all most of us have our air conditioning.  Can you imagine life without it?  Would you live where you do without air conditioning to keep you comfortable in the hot summer weather?  We are pretty spoiled.

 

 


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Bombardment: No Wonder We Are Stressed Out

Dying polar bears. Hundred of earthquakes in Oklahoma. Damage from oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico. Hundred of thousands of acres on fire in Alaska. Bee colony deaths. Monster hurricanes.oil-spill-beaches

Shootings in churches, schools, movie theaters and shopping malls. Road rage. Burning flags. Burning churches. Love the sinner hate the sin translating into willingness to quit a job instead of follow the law. Lynchings over race and sexual orientation. Surplus military vehicles coming to your town as local police equipment.armored police vehicles

Items sold in grocery stores as food that have no natural nutritional value.  Adults who have never eaten a nectarine. Children who only eat canned fruit and can not identify the real thing. Chicken shipped to China for processing and then shipped back to American supermarkets.cildhood obesity

Trade deals with other countries that are secret. Jobs outsourced from the US. Shoppers who stand in line for hours at big box stores for a sale instead of supporting locally owned stores on main street. People who claim they are patriotic but buy cheap foreign made goods.sale line

Mandated national academic policy. Children who watch television 6 hours a day. Adults who watch television 6 hours a day but don’t have time to cook from scratch. Active children given drugs instead of fun outside.  Organized recreational sports with angry parents.kids-watching-tv-blog-size

People who never spend time in nature. National parks crowded with people in air conditioned RVs. Trash thrown out of cars. Lack of recycling programs and attitudes. Yards junked up with old tires, old appliances, overgrown weeds.  Water bottled for sale from a drought-stricken area where farmers can no longer irrigate the crops that feed us all.food gorws

Children joining the military because patriotism/economy is so bad can’t find a job/can’t afford to pay for college and finding themselves unprepared  in situations where they learn war is not a video game. Traumatized vets coming home and unable to maneuver through the rigmarole of policies and practices of supposedly helpful agencies, maybe also spiraling downward with drugs used to quiet the noise in their head, abandoned by families because of emotionally unstable behavior, ending up on the streets.homeless veterans_infographic

Growing number of homeless. Feeding the hungry illegal in many towns. Not in my backyard attitude of many communities instead of recognition that poverty exists everywhere. Rinse and repeat through several generations.  Assumption all are druggies and abusing the system.hunger in the US

On and on. Anger. Hate. Fear. Me. Me. Me. My rights. My privilege is more important than your need.

Those of us over 50 recognize how much the US has changed since our childhood. While some long for the good old days of the 1950s, they don’t recognize it is not because of what was or was not happening all those decades ago but because we were children. We had no real knowledge of what was really going on and we basically had no responsibilities.  Of course life was simpler then-we were children and naive.

This ad is an example of how it was in the 1950s and it's an ad for coffee, not an R rated film.

This ad is an example of how it was in the 1950s and it’s an ad for coffee, not an R rated film.

There has been no idyllic time. Ever. For each era  where countless people had prosperity, countless others were diminished through economic or legal policies.

Some people recognized that something needed to be done to fix those policies, so all people could have the opportunity to strive to that level of prosperity held by others.  What happened over time was that some people just could not be helped and other people began to realize their own position of power was diluted and started working for equal protection under the law.not being bullied

The turmoil we now experience is truly nothing new. Even the hate, which seems to be pervasive, is really nothing new. There is a lot of fear and we are being manipulated by those in power to keep us off balance and fearful. Fear of anyone different from us, whether in color, nationality, citizenship, education, economic standing, residence style, education. Having fear of anyone who is different, people huddle in groups of like-minded friends. They rarely bother to know anyone outside their narrow group, and so the fear…and the hate….continue.

We enjoy diversity in parrots...why not in people?

We enjoy diversity in parrots…why not in people?

Why? You certainly don’t like it this way, do you? The ONLY person whose attitude you can control is your own. Start. Set an example of good. Of calm. Of rational thinking. Of sharing ideas calmly. Of living the Golden Rule-TREAT PEOPLE THE WAY YOU WANT TO BE TREATED.Golden Rule

 

 

 


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There’s Something in the Water

Something is going on.

In the past three weeks five people I know have had babies. In the next two weeks, several more babies are due. The problem is not that there are so many wonderful babies born, the issue is it is all around the country so potentially more difficult to avoid if it is spread in the water. Be careful. Maybe drink beer or wine instead. stork-and-newborn-baby-cartoon

Also in the past couple of weeks several of my friends have been going through difficult times. Loss of jobs, illness, marriage issues, needing to move, you name it.

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????So I put a light hearted spin on the babies, but in reality, life throws huge curveballs sometimes.  And there are times in life that it feels that the issues are all there are to deal with with no “normal” time happening.  Lots of issues that will cause a major change.  Babies do that also.

So, why is it that just when you need to face a needed adjustment, all you feel like doing is staying in bed?  At the time you need to think clearly, all your issues are making your head spin.

You need to forget how it will look and reach for help. If you have a reliable partner, share, talk, hug, cry, plan. If you don’t, call a friend. You and I know that when the going gets tough, only true friends walk with you. The others scatter, as if it is contagious. Better off without them. Note their action but do not spend one iota of energy mourning their loss.

But remember to reach. And if no friends surround you, get thee to a professional. Someone who has expertise in the area where you need the help. Don’t put on your game face. Give an honest picture of where your head is, your heart is, your finances are.  Only with honesty, essentially to yourself, can you get on the pathway to healing.

And besides, beer and wine won’t help. You need to take those steps, albeit difficult, to look yourself in the mirror, into your heart, tell yourself you deserve better, and then work for it.

Why? Because you are loved. You are important. I need you in my life.

You hear me?two-people-holding-hands-you-are-not-alone