Monday, October 29, 2007


I tried to make shaving easier, but it didn’t work.

There’s a product called Magic Shaving Powder that’s formulated to stop razor bumps by chemically removing facial hair. It’s been around for a while and there are lots of people who swear by it for their shaving needs.

I’ve used this stuff in the past to varying shades of success, and since it had been a while since I last tried it, I decided to try to use it to remove week-old stubble. This was a special version that contained aloe vera and Vitamin B to help moisturize the skin as it took off the hair, so I figured it was a little safer than the rather smelly and caustic original version.

Big mistake.

The trouble started when I couldn’t get the powder mixture to blend right with water following the package instructions. I tried mixing it every which way, more water, less water, and everything in between, but it never formed a cream, just a weak, watery mixture. That should have been my first sign to stop.

Undaunted, I began to apply it to my face. It hardened up quickly, so I decided to add more water to keep it moist. That was mistake number two. I had nasty smelling depilatory all over the bathroom and it began to burn my skin.

I tried scraping the stuff off my face with a spatula, but it only made the pain worse. I then used a washcloth and got most of the mixture off, but none of the hair.

That’s when I decided to shave. With clippers and a razor.

I’m an idiot. Third mistake so far.

The shave itself wasn’t painful, but my right cheek was raw from the combination of friction and chemicals. Should have stopped while was ahead.

Since everything I had to treat the pain had alcohol in it, which was going to make it worse with the raw skin, I decided to use aspirin and water to soothe the pain. I dissolved some aspirin in a bowl of water and coated my face with it. It helped relive the pain instantly, but it only stopped the redness temporarily.

So here I sit typing about 24 hours later with one really red cheek and pain with the other mitigated by a nice solid coat of Lanacane. Next time, I’ll skip the Magic and stick with a couple of occasional bumps in my usual shaving routine.

Carry on…

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Macy's to invigorate flagship store

Launches ad campaign, "Take Me to State Street"

Sandra M. Jones
Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO - Macy's Inc. is unveiling a brand campaign aimed at breathing new life into its downtown State Street flagship store, which has alienated some shoppers since converting from Marshall Field's last year [more]

Thursday, September 27, 2007

What are your Two's?

(from DeWitte, via the Lost Anjel)

Now, here's what you're supposed to do... And please do not spoil the fun.
Hit forward, delete my answers and type in your answers. Then send this to
a whole bunch of people you know INCLUDING the person who sent it to you.
The theory is that you will learn little known facts about those whom you know.

Subject: What are your Two's?

Two names you go by:
Steve and "that black guy"
Two things you are wearing right now:
t-shirt and shorts
Two things you would want (or have) in a relationship:
love, laughter
Two of your favorite things to do:
shop and blog
Two things you want very badly at the moment:
dinner and a 48-hour day
Two pets you had/have:
Poochie and Benny (dogs)
Two people who will answer these questions, or first to send it back:
Evan and Heather
Two things you did last night:
ate and slept
Two things you ate yesterday:
BBQ Sandwich and ice cream
Two people you have last talked to:
Kevin and Ken
Two things you're doing tomorrow:
working and shopping
Two longest car rides:
Virginia to Savannah, Ga.
Virginia to Madison, Wis.
Two favorite holidays:
Halloween & Christmas
Two favorite drinks:
Blenheim Ginger Ale and pomegranate juice.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Got Crocs? Be Careful on the Escalator

WASHINGTON (AP) — At rail stations and shopping malls around the world, reports are popping up of people, particularly young children, getting their toes caught in escalators. The one common theme seems to be the clunky soft-soled clogs known by the name of the most popular brand, Crocs. [read more]

Happy 25th Birthday to :-)

Language experts say the smiley face and other emotional icons, known as emoticons, have given people a concise way in e-mail and other electronic messages of expressing sentiments that otherwise would be difficult to detect.

PITTSBURGH (AP) — It was a serious contribution to the electronic lexicon. :-)

Twenty-five years ago, Carnegie Mellon University professor Scott E. Fahlman says, he was the first to use three keystrokes — a colon followed by a hyphen and a parenthesis — as a horizontal "smiley face" in a computer message. [read more]

Monday, September 10, 2007

Most women own 19 pairs of shoes -- some secretly

Belinda Goldsmith

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - American women have come out of the closet with a secret -- most own about 19 pairs of shoes and some have hidden purchases from their partners. [Read more at Reuters]

She keeps the work on schedule

Note from Steve: This is another of my oldest and dearest friends. She was recently one of the subjects of a newspaper article on men and women who fill nontraditional roles in their places of work.

Erinn Hutkin
The Roanoke Times


The atmosphere often changes when she steps onto a job site.

Suddenly, hard-hat-wearing construction workers apologize when they curse. They also don't chew. Or spit.

At 33, Angie Baughman is the only female project manager for Roanoke's Lionberger Construction. In May, she earned her master's degree in construction management from Virginia Tech after a short career as an architect.

Her job means overseeing several projects at once -- right now, it's the renovation of a Blacksburg church and building new retail space at Valley View Mall.

While an on-site supervisor runs daily operations at a job site, it's up to Baughman to handle the budget and the bills, correspond with architects, line up subcontractors and compile estimates.

Essentially, she's charged with keeping the guys working, keeping the job on schedule and making money.

"It ultimately rests on my shoulders to make sure it happens," she said.

After working in architecture for five years, Baughman decided she didn't like spending her days in front of a computer. Architects she worked for in Roanoke encouraged her to return to school for a master's in construction, leading her to attend classes while working full time.

She quit her job in December 2006, planning to focus on school. A week later, she received an e-mail about a part-time job at Lionberger from her department head at Tech. Starting work part-time, she thinks, eased her transition as a woman. And in construction, she found everything she felt her former career lacked.

"I get to go to the job. I get to talk to the guys. I get to see the project happen," she explained. "I like being able to keep busy on the job."

Even in school, Baughman knew she was outnumbered. She estimates 75 percent of students in her master's program were men. Even when there were speakers from construction companies, seeing a woman was rare.

Yet when she decided to switch careers, no one was less surprised than Baughman's mom. She knows her daughter is a self-proclaimed tomboy who hates shopping, except for a weakness for shoes. Baughman loves sports -- helping coach high school soccer and playing pick-up basketball. With her dad, she is making improvements on her Roanoke house.

On the job, Baughman tries to balance being confident with taking the guys' advice. If a man with 20 years' experience tells her a certain fastener will work, she'll likely listen.

On the other hand, she believes some guys at a site will ask her questions just to see if she knows the answer.

"You're a little bit discriminated against at first until people know you," she said.

A few weeks ago, for instance, Baughman was picking up a tape measure at Lowe's. A couple of guys saw her shopping and tried telling her, "Honey, you need this one."

Baughman just let them talk.

There's time enough for them to figure out she's the boss.

Monday, September 03, 2007

todd, cynthia & emmett

I had an old friend visit for Labor Day, and met a couple new ones.

This is my friend Todd M. On the left is a picture of us in 1996, when we were back in college. On the right is us, literally, today, on the Roanoke City Market.

Mom said we look better now. I just know we're older and larger.

Todd is one of my oldest and dearest friends, but I don't get to see him often because we live on opposite ends of the state (and we both tend to be quite busy). It's a rare occasion when we can get together in person.

Today he stopped in with his new wife and son and had a late lunch with me downtown.

Todd has a beautiful family. At left is is his lovely wife, Cynthia, and at right is Emmett, their son. They are both a delight. Todd is a lucky man.

Just so you'll know, I do realize these pictures are blurry as hell. My old standby digital camera is falling apart after four years of steady use, and I'm slowly talking myself into replacing it. The pace becomes quicker when I get pictures like this.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Retail leader, mayor, John Belk dies at 87

The Charlotte Observer

Former Charlotte Mayor John Belk, who ran his family's retail chain for over 50 years, died Friday morning. He was 87.

Belk served four terms as Charlotte's mayor from 1969-1977. That was longer than anybody before current Mayor Pat McCrory.

"John was a highly respected businessman and beloved community leader who played an integral role in the growth, development and success of his company and the Charlotte community," the company said in a statement. "He will be truly missed."

A funeral service will be held Monday at Myers Park Presbyterian Church in Charlotte.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Lord & Taylor to launch $10m celebrity model-focused rebranding ad campaign


Department store group Lord & Taylor is set to launch a $10m celebrity model-focused rebranding campaign to spotlight both its updated image and 181-year heritage. The campaign will debut in mid-August and run through the Holiday season.

Showcasing the results of a four-year repositioning, the campaign features a cast of celebrities that include models Carolyn Murphy, Lauren Hutton, Jacquetta Wheeler, Hanne Termote, Megan McNeirney and Erin Heatherton, as well as artist Ed Ruscha, socialites Lauren Davis and Lydia Hearst, plus the children of John McEnroe and Clint Eastwood.

"The stunning images depicted in this campaign will signify Lord & Taylor's relevance in the speciality department store arena," noted CEO Jane Elfers.

Created by ad-man David Lipman and shot in California by Mario Testino, the "striking ads project Lord & Taylor's innate style: unapologetically classic with a multigenerational attitude", said the retailer.

The images will appear in multi-page spreads in the September issues of Vogue and Vanity Fair and in ads featured in W, Harper's Bazaar, Elle, Town & Country, Cookie, In Style, Interview and GQ as well as in major national newspapers.

In addition, 25 billboards will be placed in Boston, Chicago, Connecticut, Detroit, Philadelphia, New York, railroad stations in upscale suburban areas and the Bryant Park Tents during New York Fashion Week.

As part of the re-branding, a $250m capital budget has been earmarked over the next five years by NRDC Equity Partners, which purchased Lord & Taylor from Federated for $1.1bn in 2006.

Friday, July 27, 2007

fight the power

New rules currently under consideration for Film Permits (Chapter 9, Title 43 of the City Rules of New York) could possibly have an negative impact on independent filmmakers and photographers and their ability to engage in creative work in New York City.

The rules would require any group of two or more people who want to use a camera in a single public location (taking pictures or filming on city property, including sidewalks) for more than a half hour to get a city permit and insurance.

The same requirements would apply to any group of five or more people who plan to use a tripod in a public location for more than 10 minutes, including the time it takes to set up the equipment.

Permits would have to be obtained for specific dates and times and exact locations, and the minimum $1 million insurance would be out of reach for many individuals.

In the media, city spokespeople are saying this will not affect the millions of tourists that take pictures and video in New York, but as written, the rules could potentially make hobbyists (like myself) and tourists, as well as artists and commercial practitioners, criminals for taking pictures of New York attractions.

(If you don't know why this issue is important to me, you might want to click here)

Spontaneous documentation of the urban environment is the heart of my photographic work, and with the already strict enforcement of similar rules at malls and shopping centers, I could potentially end up with a severely limited subject range.

Please sign the petition linked here, and help defend New Yorkers' (and my) First Amendment rights.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


If you’ve been paying attention to my Flickr site, you may have noticed I’ve been taking an inordinate number of photographs of late. It’s a project of sorts: a reminder to me that no matter what is (or isn’t) going on in my life, there are still moments of beauty, of texture, of creation. It’s never really cemented into conscious projects before, but the seeds have been subversively planted by the artist that’s still in me…somewhere

The biggest set of the current collection has to be the Downtown Roanoke collection. Conceptually, it’s simple: take a camera out at lunchtime and photograph what I see. Through the camera lens, I’ve discovered my lunch commute is covered in interesting things, great and small. There’s architecture, neon-fired creativity, remnants of a far more urban and gritty past, and quirky things like a dog fountain and a lunar rocket, that most towns just can’t pull off. Roanoke is cool.

The aforementioned neon signs are part of the (obviously) eponymous collection. I have a fascination with signs in general, but neon signs are even cooler than that. The collection spans from the simple to the grandiose, old and new. There are always the ones that got away from the camera, including several in downtown Roanoke that recently bit the dust, but there’s no shortage of them, and as long as they hold my interest, I will photograph them.

The third set of note is the latest New York photoset, taken last weekend. This trip was a little different, as my mom went with me and we explored some locations decidedly different than the typical New York destinations everybody talks about. Not a lot of larger stores or even chains this time, but rather a quirky collection of local flavor, which showed the limitless possibilities of creativity. It was fun to visit and just as fun to shoot.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

the persistent buzz

Well, what can I say?

For those of you still with me, I’ve been busy (as usual) with a case of a slow inter-web, which kind of puts a damper on posting.

Two things are to blame for the latter: a marginal ISP and even worse phone service. This week, there’s been a persistent buzz on the line that shows up from time to time and affects my already slow transmission speed, typically cutting it down by a third or more. I’ve called the phone people and they don’t hear what I hear, with their “repair’ doing pretty much nothing.

The worst part about slow internet service is that just about everything on the Web is designed for high-speed connections, which I can’t get because I live in Middle-of-Nowhere, Va. Just about every site is hard to load, if not impossible. Just posting this is a pain in the rear.

And the solution is not a satellite. Those are a rip. No more than I use this stuff at home, I have time to wait a little while for stuff to load, just not freakin’ forever like now.

Luckily the buzz subsides typically in a few days, so eventually I’ll move from carrier pigeons to the Pony Express.

In other news…

Today’s my day off for Independence Day, which I will likely spend sleeping or doing laundry, my two most reliable and persistent habits. If I had the money, I’d outsource the sleeping, but I think the laundry would be more feasible.

I don’t know if I’d be happy with somebody else doing my laundry though. It’s kind of therapeutic and interesting to use the machines and try out the new products. I’m a Tide man, by the way. Downy too. And Bounce. God bless Procter & Gamble.

Maybe I could a laundry to iron everything, because that’s the worst part for me, even though I do have a fancy European pressing machine that helps alleviate some of the tedium. It’s old, but it’s cool as hell.

Ready, set, shop.

I’m on the verge of buying a professional butter warmer to go with the popcorn machine. The prices aren’t bad for new, but I’d love to get a slightly used one for a little less if I could. I’d have to get different bags if I did use pour-on butter, of course, but that’s minimal for the pleasure connected to having movie-theater style popcorn.

I’ve also ordered a new pair of summerish looking loafers. Cole-Haan. Saddle tan. No kilties. They’ll be good for work. Casual, but a little more formal than boat shoes, yet not as formal as lace-ups. I care about these things. There’s a look involved.

Eastland rising.

Pat sent me a pile of pictures and ads for Eastland Mall in Charlotte recently, as well as for SouthPark. Uploading’s been a pain of late (see above), and I’m always wiped these days, so I’ve been stalling a bit, but they’re very cool. The Ivey’s ad alone is worth the wait.

One of these days, I’ll be where I want to be (here with y’all regularly, like the old days), but until then, stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Sesame Street - The Count hires Ernie to answer his phone

Best. Sketch. Ever. Even my dad still talks about this 30 years later. Click here to watch it on YouTube.

The Count hires Ernie to answer his phone so that he won't be bothered with calls while he is counting. However, when the phone rings, the Count wants to count the rings, and won't let Ernie pick up the phone until it's too late. "I told you it wasn't going to be easy," the Count explains.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Liz Claiborne passes away at 78

Chain Store Age

Fashion designer Liz Claiborne has died, the company she founded said Wednesday. She was 78.

Claiborne died Tuesday after suffering from cancer for a number of years, said Gwen Satterfield, personal assistant to Claiborne.

Claiborne founded Liz Claiborne Inc. in 1976 along with her husband Art Ortenberg and Leonard Boxer. Their aim was to create a collection of fashions aimed at the growing number of women entering the work force.

The clothes became an instant hit, and the company went public in 1981. By 1985, Liz Claiborne Inc. was the first company founded by a woman to be listed in the Fortune 500, according to the company's Web site. The company, whose brands now include Ellen Tracy, Dana Buchman and Juicy Couture, generated sales of almost $5 billion last year.

Liz Claiborne retired from day-to-day operations in 1989.

Friday, June 15, 2007

one last time...

Bob Barker enters the stage for the last time for his final episode of "The Price Is Right" in Los Angeles on Wednesday, June 6, 2007. Bob Barker signed off on 35 years on "The Price Is Right" and 51 years in television in the same low-key, genial fashion that made him one of daytime TV's biggest stars. (AP Photo)

I want this setup for my house, back wall and all. I used to have something similar at Tanglewood, or thought I did. LOL

We're gonna miss you, Bob!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

"they're (not so) grrrreat"

Does 'Big Cereal's self-regulation mean anything?

According to published reports, cereal giant Kellogg is voluntarily phasing out advertising to kids under age 12 unless and until the foods meet certain nutrition guidelines. They have also agreed to stop licensing popular advertising characters connected to the affected products.

Is this a step in the right direction? Maybe, but it seems a little silly to me.

Anyone who’s read about the dangers of processed foods knows that breakfast foods like Pop Tarts and Froot Loops are not good for you, even as part of a “balanced breakfast.” And we all know that kids are gullible. I know I would try to stick everything in the supermarket cart I saw on Saturday morning cartoons (Remember those? Where have they gone?)


Unlike with similar initiatives aimed at the tobacco and cigarette industry, the target market is not easily able to go buy (or have someone buy them) the product. Your five-year-old will beg and scream for Corn Pops, but it’s not like he can drive himself to Kroger and stock up.

Parents are buying this crap for their kids. Taking the commercials off cartoon broadcasts doesn’t mean anything if the parent goes and buys it for them anyway. And part of the reason that kids are so overweight and obese these days is because parents are enabling them with foods that are bad for them.

While it’s likely that some cereals and other products could be reformulated to be healthier, and hopefully they will be, by this intuitive, so much of what is going on is just window dressing.

Think about the kids menu at your favorite restaurant. Hot dogs, chicken nuggets, fries…none of this stuff is substantially healthier than a bowl of cereal (especially when studies have shown a link between increased levels of saturated fats in the body and the development of diabetes). But nobody (yet) has suggested that we take off the Oscar Meyer or Ore-Ida commercials.

Yes, I know it’s voluntary, but it’s a double standard, and in the media clip-entrenched world we live in, it makes something that (generally) does include some vitamins and minerals in its primary ingredients out to be the bad guy. Giving a kid another processed product in lieu of the suddenly evil cereal will not necessarily improve their health.

I guess my point is, what’s being done doesn’t hurt, but until an effort is done to make food healthier for all of us, especially kids, we’re really not doing anything special here by taking away Tony the Tiger.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

new rules for 2007

I think George Carlin came up with these, and my cousin Cindy sent them to me. Enjoy.
  • New Rule: Stop giving me that pop-up ad for! There's a reason you don't talk to people for 25 years. Because you don't particularly like them!? Besides, I already know what the captain of the football team is doing these days--mowing my lawn.
  • New Rule: Don't eat anything that's served to you out a window unless you're a seagull. People are acting all shocked that a human finger was found in a bowl of Wendy's chili. Hey, it cost less than a dollar. What did you expect it to contain?? Trout?
  • New Rule: Stop saying that teenage boys who have sex with their hot, blonde teachers are permanently damaged. I have a better description for these kids: lucky bastards.
  • New Rule: If you need to shave and you still collect baseball cards, you're a dope. If you're a kid, the cards are keepsakes of your idols. If you're a grown man, they're pictures of men.
  • New Rule: Ladies, leave your eyebrows alone. Here's how much men care about your eyebrows: do you have two of them? Okay, we're done.
  • New Rule: There's no such thing as flavored water. There's a whole aisle of this crap at the supermarket, water, but without that watery taste. Sorry, but flavored water is called a soft drink. You want flavored water? Pour some scotch over ice and let it melt. That's your flavored water.
  • New Rule: Stop screwing with old people. Target is introducing a redesigned pill bottle that's square, with a bigger label. And the top is now the bottom. And by the time grandpa figures out how to open it, his ass will be in the morgue. Congratulations, Target, you just solved the Social Security crisis.
  • New Rule: The more complicated the Starbucks order, the bigger the asshole. If you walk into a Starbucks and order a "decaf grande half-soy, half-low fat, iced vanilla, double-shot, gingerbread cappuccino, extra dry, light ice, with one sweet-n'-Low, and one NutraSweet," ooh, you're a huge asshole.
  • New Rule: I'm not the cashier! By the time I look up from sliding my card, entering my PIN number, pressing "Enter," verifying the amount, deciding no, I don't want cash back, and pressing "Enter" again, the kid who is supposed to be ringing me up is standing there eating my Almond Joy.
  • New Rule: Just because your tattoo has Chinese characters in it doesn't make you spiritual. It's right above the crack of your ass. And it translates to "beef with broccoli." The last time you did anything spiritual, you were praying to God you weren't pregnant. You're not spiritual. You're just high.
  • New Rule: Competitive eating isn't a sport. It's one of the seven deadly sins. ESPN recently televised the U.S. Open of Competitive Eating, because watching those athletes at the poker table was just too damned exciting. What's next, competitive farting??? Oh wait!? They're already doing that. It's called "The Howard Stern Show."
  • New Rule: I don't need a bigger mega M&Ms. If I'm extra hungry for M&Ms, I'll go nuts and eat two.
  • New Rule: If you're going to insist on making movies based on crappy, old television shows, then you have to give everyone in the Cineplex a remote so we can see what's playing on the other screens. Let's remember the reason something was a television show in the first place is that the idea wasn't good enough to be a movie.
  • New Rule: No more gift registries. You know, it used to be just for weddings. Now it's for babies and new homes and graduations from rehab. Picking out the stuff you want and having other people buy it for you isn't gift giving, it's the white people version of looting.
  • New Rule: and this one is long overdue: No more bathroom attendants.? After I zip up, some guy is offering me a towel and a mint like I just had sex with George Michael. I can't even tell if he's supposed to be there, or just some freak with a fetish. I don't want to be on your web cam, dude. I just want to wash my hands.
  • New Rule: When I ask how old your toddler is, I don't need to know in months. "27 Months." "He's two," will do just fine. He's not a piece of cheese. And I didn't really care in the first place.
  • New Rule: If you ever hope to be a credible adult and want a job that pays better than minimum wage, then for God's sake don't pierce or tattoo every available piece of flesh. If so, then plan your future around saying, "Do you want fries with that?"

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

way to shop?

Macy's regional buying strategy is criticized

The New York Post

Even as Macy's spends millions of dollars to create a national brand through advertising and store renovations, behind the scenes the company still operates through seven regional buying offices, a system that analysts have panned as outdated and costly.

Macy's argues that its regional divisions allow it to better tailor merchandise for different stores, ensuring that marquee locations such as Macy's Herald Square carry more upscale items than do stores in less affluent neighborhoods.

But analysts point out that Macy's is one of the few large retailers to still rely on regional buying offices. J.C. Penney, Kohl's and Nordstrom are among those that have switched to central systems, yet manage to pepper stores with local flavor, these people said.

As Macy's sales continue to lag expectations, the company's cost structure is increasingly becoming a topic of conversation. This is especially true as savings from its merger with the May Department Stores Co. start to run their course.

"Macy's cost structure is too high, and, as a result, their prices are too high," said Robert Buchanan of A. G. Edwards. "That is a key reason why they are likely to lose market share."

Buchanan estimates that Macy's could save $100 million a year by eliminating all but two of its buying offices. He favors the retention of regional merchandise managers to ensure that products are tailored to individual stores.

Such a move would help bring Macy's expenses in line with competitors. According to Buchanan, Macy's expense-to- sales ratio is 32 percent compared with 27 percent for Nordstrom and 25 percent for both J.C. Penney and Kohl's.

Macy's has tried centralized buying in its home department with disastrous results, making it less likely the company would move quickly to streamline other divisions, observers said.

The move to central buying for bedding, furniture and other items for the home pre-dated Macy's, then known as Federated Department Stores, 2005 merger with the May Co.

Logistical problems with warehouse and distribution centers overwhelmed the Macy's team. Then the housing slump kicked in, further hurting sales of home goods, which have been among the company's weakest performers.

The pressure to cut costs by centralizing operations comes as Macy's finds it increasingly difficult to integrate the roughly 400 stores it acquired from the May Co.

Macy's is adding more promotions and adjusting merchandise through a seven-box grid. Prices range from good, better, best. Styles are lumped into four groups with traditional being the most conservative and fashion the most trendy.

Tinkering with the merchandise only works if consumers perceive products sold at Macy's to be of comparable or better value to what competitors are offering, analysts said.

For instance, towels sold at Macy's under its private label Charter Club brand for $16 stack up poorly against Target's Fieldcrest towels, which regularly go for $11.99, said Robert Passikoff of Brand Keys.

Monday, June 11, 2007

"There are FIVE chairs in this hotel room"

Greetings and salutations to whoever’s left out here.

My frequent and long-term absences from this blog have taken a toll on the comments and readership, as evidenced in the lack of comments of late. If I had my way, these things would never happen, but, like everybody else these days, I’ve been pulled in multiple directions in this recent life, unable to focus enough to give this place the quality of writing that it deserved.

So I backed off.

In the meantime, a lot has happened, not necessarily to me, but to other members of our little blogging community. Several of us have lost parents and other loved ones, and others have gotten new jobs or increased responsibilities on our existing jobs. Some of us have suffered from writers’ block, while others have never been so prolific. Kids are born; stuff goes out of business or changes beyond recognition. Such is life.

As for me, I recently celebrated (if you can call it that) my one-year service anniversary with the city and two successful tax seasons with Big Green. One of these things may or may not be a part of my life this time next year. I’ll let you know, preferably off-site, as the biggest drawback of being so open and public with my identity is that anybody and everybody can read this stuff.

Something tells me that if I had it to do again, I’d select a snazzy pseudonym and conduct this operation undercover. Then again, when I started this thing, I never expected to develop a fan base (HA!) or a public life. I also never expected to live out my life’s dramas behind a keyboard. Oh well. I guess I never took ‘Diary 101’ back in the day.

I’ve been doing the retail thing as of late as well, as if anyone is surprised. In the past few weeks, I’ve visited new store prototypes from The Home Depot, Brooks Brothers, Sur la Table and Belk, as well as an antique mall that is located in an almost well-preserved former Kmart that thankfully never made it to the badly-altered Big Kmart phase.

I also saw “Knocked Up” at the movies. Seth Rogen found a way to make what would seem to be a totally undesirable character into a sweet, smart and unquestionably funny lead. He’s only a small part of what makes this Judd Aptow vehicle a smash hit. You just have to see how many gags and references can be effectively crammed into one movie.

Geez, what else have I done? A lot, I guess, but writing it is harder that it seems.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

the quality food people

Oh yeah, do you know how you know you’re suffering from job burnout? When you can’t seem to chill out enough to do productive things.

Tonight, instead of doing something that probably needed to be done, I was looking at pictures of old Giant (Landover) grocery stores on DC Grocery.

Giant Food really is one of the more interesting supermarket chains from a historical standpoint. It started a lot later than most of its industry counterparts and concentrated on a handful of contiguous markets in the Washington, DC area, but still was able to cast a major shadow on the industry, providing such innovations as combo grocery-general merchandise stores (in the ‘50s!) and chain-wide grocery scanners way before even its largest competitors.

Considering who I am and what I do, I don’t consider it a waste of my evening, especially when I found a vintage The Hecht Co. logo in an ad posted on the same site that had the Giant photos.

I’m weird. I don’t miss my local Hecht’s. But I miss the Washington-area Hecht’s, as well as the Woodward & Lothrop and Garfinkel’s. I think for me they helped define the market as a distinctive entity. You don’t get that with national chains. But I digress.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The NYC Profit Calculator (Macy's edition)

If you have ever wondered how a place like Macy's in Herald Square stays in business, here's an idea.

Related Story
The Profit Calculator -- New York Magazine

After taping last show, Barker offers to fill in as 'Price' host

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- After 35 years as host of "The Price Is Right," Bob Barker hung up his microphone for good this week. Or did he?

After taping his last show, the 83-year-old icon said Wednesday that he would happily return to the "Price" stage if a replacement host isn't found by the time the new season starts in the fall.

"They're having trouble finding someone to do the show," Barker told reporters during a post-show press conference. "And I've told members of the staff here that ... if they wanted me to do it for a few more months, I would do it.

"I don't want to walk out on CBS or the company if they're in that position because they've been too good to me."

FremantleMedia North America, which produces "The Price Is Right," did not respond to a call seeking comment Thursday.

Barker taped his last episode — his 6,586th — of the popular CBS game show Wednesday, retiring after five decades on national television. The episode is scheduled to air twice June 15: once at its usual time and again that evening.

The silver-haired host ended his record tenure by blowing kisses and working in the same low-key, genial fashion that made him one of daytime TV's biggest stars. He closed the show with his usual, "Help control the pet population, have your pets spayed or neutered. Goodbye everybody."

Once the cameras stopped rolling, he told the studio audience: "I thank you, thank you, thank you for inviting me into your home for more than 50 years. I'm truly grateful, and I hope that all of you have enjoyed your visit to `The Price Is Right.'"

Reruns of Barker-hosted shows will play throughout the summer.

A new host has yet to be named. Among those reportedly in the running are Todd Newton of the E! network, Mark Steines of "Entertainment Tonight," George Hamilton and John O'Hurley.

Developers show off Lord & Taylor, Whole Foods plan

Mark Ginocchio,
The Stamford Advocate

STAMFORD, Conn. -- Jun. 5 -- Developers yesterday unveiled an artist's rendering of an expanded Lord & Taylor department store at Bulls Head with a Whole Foods Market on the ground floor.

The site would include a new 190,000-square-foot Lord & Taylor store, a 60,000-square-foot Whole Foods and 50,000 square feet of retail space with vendors to be determined.

The changes are part of a nationwide makeover of the department store chain, Lord & Taylor Chairman Richard Baker said.

"Every inch will be brand new," Baker said during a news conference at the Stamford Government Center. "It will be the most special Lord & Taylor in the chain."

When he acquired the department store chain in October, Lord & Taylor was a "dusty brand," Baker said. The company is investing $500 million nationally to revitalize it.

The Stamford project, which must be approved by city boards, is being developed by National Realty & Development Corp. of Purchase, N.Y.

The specialty grocer Whole Foods has "knocked on doors" in Stamford for a while, Mayor Dannel Malloy said.

The closest Whole Foods stores are in Greenwich and White Plains, N.Y. The company recently bought the Wild Oats chain, which has a store in Westport.

Bringing in a Whole Foods is great but "one of the most exciting parts is that Lord & Taylor is enlarging, while other stores have been downsizing," Malloy said.

Sandra Goldstein, executive director of the Downtown Special Services District, said she has received a number of calls asking for a Whole Foods downtown.

"As much as we would want one downtown, we are very supportive of this program," Goldstein said of the Lord & Taylor development between High Ridge and Long Ridge roads at Bulls Head, the large intersection with Cold Spring Road, Summer Street and Bedford Street.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Is Wal-Mart Too Cheap for Its Own Good?

The New York Times

A confidential report concludes that the chain’s reputation for discounts has worked against its efforts to move upscale. (more)

A Traditionalist Walks a Fine Line

Shoemaker Allen Edmonds Aims to Reach Younger Men By Touting Old-School Quality

By Christina Binkley
The Wall Street Journal

When it comes to shoes, conventional wisdom holds that most men today respond to fresh design, splashy advertising and styles conceived for younger feet.

Since turning itself into a high-fashion brand, Coach has been on a tear. Gucci and Prada have gobbled up the markets for luxury loafers and bags. In June in Milan, sexy-shoe designer Brian Atwood will show his first collection -- men's footwear -- as creative director for Swiss shoemaker Bally, which is seeking more fashion-conscious shoppers these days.

Then there's Allen Edmonds. Oxfords, tassel moccasins, penny loafers. Now here's a brand in need of resuscitation: eighty-five years old, with flat revenue and an aging boomer clientele.

Its new private-equity owners, Goldner Hawn Johnson & Morrison Inc., which bought an 86% stake last year, are now advocating an overhaul. But instead of following the rest of the high-fashion accessories industry, Allen Edmonds is digging in its heels. With a wingtip and a prayer, it's expanding with a strategy to make new assets of old-world service and quality...

Read more at The Wall Street Journal

Friday, May 25, 2007



New York's famed Saks Fifth Avenue department store plans to open a shoe department so big it has been granted its own ZIP code, 10022-SHOE, the company said on Thursday.

Saks said it plans to nearly double the number of shoes for sale and take over the entire eighth floor of its flagship store in Manhattan. The expanded department will open in September under the name 10022-SHOE.

"10022-SHOE will also hold a place in U.S. history as the first floor to be granted its own designated ZIP code by the United States Post Office," Saks said in a statement.

The news may delight women with shoe obsessions to rival that of former Philippines first lady Imelda Marcos.

"Visitors to the new eighth floor will be greeted by a seemingly endless array of shoes," the statement said.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A Pall on The Mall

Note from Steve: this article focuses on my collegues over at, a great mall history site if there ever was one. It also mentions frequent steve's blog contributor Mitch Glaser's excellent All the Malls of Southern California

Are dead malls worth saving?

Lissa Harris
The Weekly Dig, Boston

As a kid in suburban Rhode Island in the ’80s, [Jason] Damas (left) was, naturally, a mall rat, spending his spare time at the Rhode Island Mall food court and his spare quarters in the Aladdin’s Castle arcade. What’s odd is that he never grew out of it. One rainy day when he was 18, he drove to the Lincoln Mall a few towns over for no reason at all, and spent the day just watching people come and go. It was a bit of an epiphany for Damas...

...Now living in suburban Boston, the 26-year-old Damas is an avid historian—albeit a historian who writes under the pen name “Caldor,” taken from a now-defunct Northeastern retail chain that went belly-up in 1999...

Last year, Damas and [Ross] Schendel launched Labelscar (—a blog, an ambitious retail history project and a state of mind, with a name that manages to be at the same time both poetic and technical....

Read More at The Weekly Dig.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Cliff's Quiz

Another one of Carrie's friend's quizzes...

1. Have you ever changed your clothes while in a vehicle?
Yeah, quite a few times

2. What's something you MUST do before you go to bed?
Put on my bedclothes.

3. Are you single?

4. What's one thing you will not eat?
Boiled eggs.

5. What color is your underwear?
Not brown.

6. When is the last time you went out of state?
I go out-of-state practically every weekend. That’s where the malls are.

7. Who was your last received call?

8. Have you ever drank milk straight out of the carton?
I don’t like milk that much, but I have drunk it from the carton.

10. Can you hula hoop?
Hell naw.

11. Have you ever crawled through a window?
Once or twice

Where's 12 and 13??

14. Was today better than yesterday?
Yeah, but tomorrow’s gonna be a bitch.

15. Is anybody getting on your nerves?
How much time you got?

16. Do you talk to yourself?
Often, it’s the only sensible conversation I have all day.

17. Would you kiss the last person you kissed again?
Yes, but would she let me…

19. Ever waxed your eyebrows?

20. Earrings or necklaces?
I once rocked a fake gold chain in college. I was going through a phase.

21. Are you mad at anybody?
Again. How much time you got?

24. Do you use smiley faces on the computer a lot?
I’m trying to cut down, but I do. :-)

25. What are you doing tonight?
Getting ready to go to bed.

26. What time is it?
2:00 AM

27. Are you loud?
Not as loud as the rest of my family, but louder than the general population.

28. What are you looking forward to?

29. Do you watch Family Guy regularly?

30. Have you ever watched a little kids show?
I used to watch a lot of them. One in particular. You may have heard of it.

31. What does your last outbox text say?
RE: Carolina Circle Emblem

32 Zodiac sign?

33. What's something you have nightmares about?
Being trapped somewhere.

34. Have you ever been on a rollercoaster?
A few. Not my thing, really.

35. Do you care what others think about you?

36.What do you do all the time in a car?
Navigate. Nobody I ride with knows where in the hell they’re going.

37. Do you trust people easily?
Nope. You gotta earn it, Jack!

38.Do you follow college football?
Only the Hokies…and lightly at that.

39. Where was the last place you went shopping?
Hanes Mall

40. Favorite football team?
Pittsburgh Steelers

41. Do you watch the Olympics?

42. Last bar you went to?

43. Do you have a favorite number?
6, just like Bert. Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah.

44. Are you multitasking right now?
You know how we do.

45. Could you handle being in the military?

46. Do you believe in karma?
Yep,and it’s a bitch, too.

47. How is the weather today?
Not hot. Not cold. Not in the pot 9 days old.

48. Stupidest thing you ever did with your cell phone?
Sign the contract.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Hudson Belk gives men their space

Updated 6/5/07 with additional information (see below)

Stand-alone Men's Store opens at Crabtree Valley Mall with more clothes, shoes

Sue Stock, Staff Writer
The News & Observer

RALEIGH - Employees at the new Hudson Belk Men's Store in Raleigh's Crabtree Valley Mall are still arranging displays and unpacking merchandise, but the store was ready enough to open its doors Sunday afternoon.

Belk has moved into the top floor of what used to be Lord & Taylor, bringing mahogany shelves, racks of polo shirts, an expanded shoe department and legions of khaki pants.

The arrival of the 68,000-square-foot Belk Men's Store signals a new approach in this market by the longtime shopping staple.

This is Belk's first stand-alone Men's Store in the area, though it has 15 others in cities such as Danville, Va. It's also the biggest Men's Store the Charlotte retailer has ever built.

Company executives acknowledge that it's a strategy that won't work everywhere.

Shopping centers have to generate enough sales and traffic to make a stand-alone store worthwhile, said Steve Pernotto, the executive vice president.

"It has to be a highly productive center, and we look at sales per square foot and profitability," he said. "We look at the current and the future. You need to look out at where you're going to be in the next couple of years."

Other Belk Men's Stores have been successful, Pernotto said.

He declined to offer specific figures but said a store's sales would typically rise by a few hundred dollars per additional square foot.

The Belk Men's Store at Crabtree is double the size of the old men's department, with 34,000 additional square feet.

Still, despite all the optimism, customers were a bit confused.

Those who visited the old men's department were greeted by empty shelves, a few sales racks and a sign directing them to the new Men's Store.

Mitch Danforth, a senior civil engineering major at N.C. State University, was surprised by the speed of the transition.

"I came to Belk on Saturday and looked at sports jackets, and I came back today and found they had moved," he said. "But they kept the sale prices, so I'm fine."

Belk executives say the confusion will only be temporary. "Change always takes a little time for people to get used to it," store manager Lee O'Rourke said "You'll start to see lots of advertising as we lead into our official grand opening."

Some shoppers Monday were waiting to see whether the new store would retain their favorite qualities from the old store.

Cary resident Al Blalock said he's a fast shopper who goes into the store, gets what he wants and leaves.

"I liked coming to Belk because I didn't feel like someone had to escort me around," Blalock said. "As long as that stays the same, I'm OK."

Alienating shoppers such as Blalock is the last thing Belk wants to do. Overall at Belk stores, 70 percent of the shoppers in the men's department are women.

The Men's Stores offer a chance to appeal directly to men, with no makeup counters or perfume-spraying attendants to dodge and a decor of dark wood and dark colors, Pernotto said.

"The female's going to shop there, regardless, for their husband," Pernotto said. "We think we'll increase the percent of males that shop in our location instead of shopping at another location."

Cary resident Wayne Harris, said he will spend a lot of time in the new Men's Store. He already shops at men's specialty stores such as Liles Clothing Studio in North Hills.

"I think a big percentage of guys just don't like to shop," he said. "But maybe that's because there's not enough selection. ... This will definitely be a shot in the arm for men's shopping around here. They've been needing this."

Other shoppers wondered whether the store was too sophisticated.

"The main focus is on the business attire," said Raleigh resident Curtis Brown, a recent N.C. State University graduate. "Their fashion sense for the younger generation isn't really that much."

Renovation in the old men's department in the original Belk store starts Monday, O'Rourke said. Cosmetics, accessories and intimate apparel will expand into the space. The work will be completed in November.

The new Belk Men's Store will have its grand opening June 1.

Belk's for men jazzed up
Samantha Thompson Smith, Staff Writer
The News & Observer

RALEIGH - Burberry at Belk? That's just one of the big surprises at the new stand-alone Belk men's store that recently opened in the old Lord & Taylor space at Crabtree Valley Mall.

Here's another shocker: 7 for All Mankind jeans. A few of which sell for $198.

Grandad's Belk? Clearly not.

Finally Belk has done to men's fashion what it started doing for women a few years ago. The new store is a pleasant surprise; a mix of old faithfuls that Belk shoppers grew up with -- Saddlebred, Levi's and Ralph Lauren -- coupled with brands you wouldn't expect at Belk. Among them: Gitman Brothers button-downs, Ferragamo ties, Donald Pliner loafers and Paper Denim & Cloth jeans.

They don't come with traditional Belk pricing, either. The Ferragamo ties sell for $135. Burberry button downs cost $115.

There's still plenty of what we're used to. There are plenty of Meeting Street button-downs, and the store has hundreds of Polo shirts -- so many, the Polo shop is among the largest in the Southeast.

But if you want to take it up a notch, here's the place to look. The store also sells higher-end suits by Burberry and Hugo Boss. The selection of Joseph Abboud has expanded. And there's Tommy Bahama wear both for weekends and for work.

The new space is one of the biggest shops for men's clothing and accessories in the area, taking up 68,000 square feet, more than double the retail space of its old location in the lower level of the Crabtree Belk store.

The changes have been a long time coming. Nordstrom and Saks both came into the market a few years ago stocking trendy, big-name brands appealing to more fashion-conscious male shoppers.

Stay tuned. Merchandisers are waiting to see what customers like. Then they plan to edit the selection once they get a better feel for customer demand, says Travis Groome, a Belk merchandise coordinator.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

What Does Your Birth Date Mean?

Your Birthdate: August 30

You have the type of personality that people either love or hate.
You're opinionated, dramatic, intense, and very outspoken.
And some people can't get enough of you - they're totally addicted.
Others, well, they wish you were a little more reserved.

Your strength: Your flair

Your weakness: If you think it, you say it

Your power color: Scarlet red

Your power symbol: Inverted triangle

Your power month: March

New York: 11-28-06

My New York pictures from the Saturday after Thanksgiving are now online at Flickr.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

old(er) school

Any teenager can write a survey about their favorite class, or their secret crush, or how nice their car is that their parents paid for. This is the survey for the older crowd.

Thanks to
Carrie and Jocelyn for doing this better than I did.

1. Do you have a college degree?
I have a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Virginia Tech. Going to college was one of the best things I’ve ever done.

2. What was the amount of your last electric bill?
My utilities are included in my room and board here. I can tell you about groceries better than I can electricity.

3. Do you have life insurance?
Sure do. I think I need more, but more importantly, I need somebody to leave the proceeds to.

4. How many hours per week do you work?
At least 40, lately about 55 between the two jobs.

5. Have you ever attended a Toastmasters event?
No. My friend Ken has though.

6. Favorite place to attend Happy Hour?
I’m not much of a drinker, and the social life is a little thin these days too.

7. How many miles is your commute to work each day (one way)?
About 25 miles each way, maybe a little more.

8. What time do you get up every morning for work?
7:40 AM

9. What is your definition of sleeping in late?
Anytime I can sleep past 7:40, that’s sleeping in.

10. Do you check your cholesterol on a yearly basis?
Never checked it.

11. How large was your first cell phone?
Pretty small. I was late to the whole cell phone thing.

12. Does your employer provide good health insurance?
That’s about the only reason to work there.

13. Did you use the Internet to write a research paper?
Yeah, in college. That was in the early days of the internet when information from reliable sources was free.

14. Have you attended a HS reunion?
I went to my 10 year high school reunion in 2003. It was a blast.

15. How many jobs have you held in your professional career?
If you only count what I went to school for, just one. But I’ve had a number of jobs since getting out of college

16. Have you ever been fired or laid off from a job?
Both. I quit one or two as well.

17. What is your favorite drink?
That’s a good question. I guess it’s water, but I like a lot of drinks.

18. What is the most expensive bottle of wine that you have in your residence?
My mom makes wine and I live here with her and my dad. So we don’t have much wine that isn’t homemade around, much less expensive stuff.

19. Have you been divorced?
I hope never to be. But I have a few steps to go to even be married.

20. How old were you when you stopped getting ID'd for Alcohol?
I’m still IDed, so that’s not an issue yet.

21. Favorite casino?
Never been to one.

22. Are you happier now than you were in high school?
Overall yes, but there’s a lot that’s different between then and now. The two times don’t really compare.

23. Did you ever have Hypercolor shirts?
Couldn’t afford them. But I thought they were cool.

24. Do you remember when Michael Jackson was black and was attracted to older people?
I remember it well; thinking about it makes me want to grow an Afro and start dancing : -). Actually, I bought a Jackson 5 CD the other day and I’ve had a lot of fun listening to it.

25. Do you remember when MTV actually played music videos?
I remember a little of it. We never had cable growing up.

26. Have you had a will made?
What for? I don’t have anything anyone would want.

27. What music was in your CD / cassette player when you were 16?
I listened to a lot of pop and R&B and I first got into Alex Bugnon back then, so it was a somewhat lamer version of what I listen to now.

28. Favorite fancy / upscale restaurant?
My tastes in food aren’t that sophisticated.

29. How long has it been since you attended a kegger?
I’ve never been to one.

30. Where were you when you found out about 9-11?
I was at work and one of my old co-workers had an old TV. We saw a lot of what happened unfold live. It was very surreal.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

106 facts about you

A poll Carrie had posted...

No. I’ve thought about giving one at least once.

About a year, I guess. I’m a bit of a loner.

Hmmm. It was probably at Christmas. I don’t remember what it was, but I think it was pretty nice.

At least once a week.

Huh? You don’t know me, do you?

I think the better question would be “What DON’T I spend a lot of money on?”

I had Jumbo Popcorn Chicken and tater tots with a Vanilla Dr. Pepper at Sonic.


It’s like picking a favorite child. Nearly impossible.


Franklin County.



3 years, architect.

Nope. They’re the debbil.

Nope. I haven’t done it since college

Blair and Andrea

Probably Kevin.

This past weekend.

Church’s Chicken. I’m ghetto.

"I’m a good person." I’d rather see it than hear about it.

Damn. Anywhere these days. I never see anybody.

I ain’t bad.

You really don’t know me, do you?

She knows.

It’s been a while.

Raw tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, liver.

I think I’m actually pretty interesting in a very boring way.

I’m a Virgo. This could take a while.

All nighters in college.

Right now, “The Devil Wears Prada”

In a way. I impersonate singers better than I actually sing.

Alex Bugnon.

It’s been a while.

It’s really been a while. I usually buy movies.


39. FAVORITE vacation spot
Anywhere but here.


Adam Sandler.


In pajamas. No wonder I can’t get laid.

Nobody but me, but I’m willing to entertain other offers.

ok... so there is no 48

Once or twice.

Pancakes. Always pancakes.

Espresso, yes. Coffee, not as much.

I don’t.

A little too much.


Lou or Trent.

I don’t text.

6. It’s frothy, but comfortable.


“one more chance”


I used ta’ could.


Ben and Jerry's Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

Do I? I love maps.

I love doing these surveys.

Once or twice, but it was in college.


All the time. I find a lot of things stupid.

6:45 AM



Poochie. She was a collie.

I don’t like pirates.

Probably work and ironing.



No. Are you?

Not really. I’m not a smiler.


To bed.

My social development is.

Not currently.

No clue.

Don’t wear them. I haven’t been anywhere I needed one in a while.

My school is everyday.

I went to a concession equipment show. Does that count?



Sure. Why not?

No time for love, Dr. Poll.

When I was born.

Not really, but if anybody wants to pop in, that’s cool.



I learned that no matter how well you do your job, someone will screw it up for you.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

joke week '07 | day 7

This coming week is National Mental Health Care Week. You can do your part by remembering to contact at least one unstable person to show you care.

Well, my job is done .....Your turn!

Friday, March 02, 2007

joke week '07 | day 6

A husband wakes up with a huge hangover the night after a business function. He forces himself to open his eyes and the first thing he sees is a couple of aspirins next to a glass of water on the side table. And, next to them, a single red rose!

The husband sits up in bed and sees his clothing in front of him, all clean and pressed. He looks around the room and sees that it is in perfect order, spotlessly clean. So is the rest of the house.

He takes the aspirins, cringes when he sees a huge black eye staring back at him in the bathroom mirror and notices a note on the table:

"Honey, breakfast is on the stove, I left early to go shopping. Love you!"

He stumbles to the kitchen and sure enough, there is hot breakfast and the morning newspaper. His son is also at the table, eating.

The husband asks, "Son . . . what happened last night??

"Well, you came home after 3 AM, drunk and out of your mind. You broke the coffee table, puked in the hallway and got that black eye when you ran into the door.?"

The husband asks, "So, why is everything in such perfect order, so clean, I have a rose and breakfast is on the table waiting for me??"

His son replies, "Oh, THAT? Mom dragged you to the bedroom and when she tried to take your pants off, you screamed, 'Leave me alone bitch! I'm married!'"

Broken table--$200
Hot breakfast--$5
Red rose bud--$3
Two aspirins--$.25
Saying the right thing, at the right time . . . PRICELESS!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

joke week '07 | day 5


1. If you are choking on an ice cube, don't panic. Simply pour a cup of boiling water down your throat and, presto, the blockage will be removed.

2. Clumsy? Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop away.

3. Avoid arguments with your wife about lifting the toilet seat by simply using the sink.

4. For high-blood-pressure sufferers:simply cut yourself and bleed for a few minutes, thus reducing the pressure in your veins. Remember to use a timer.

5. A mousetrap, placed on top of your alarm clock, will prevent you from rolling over and going back to sleep after you hit the snooze button.

6. If you have a bad cough, take a large dose o f laxatives, then you will be afraid to cough.

7. Have a bad toothache? Smash your thumb with a hammer and you will forget all about the toothache.

8. Sometimes, we just need to remember what the rules of life really are: You only need two tools - WD-40 and Duct Tape. If it doesn't move and should, use the WD-40; if it shouldn't move and does, use the duct tape.

9. Remember: Everyone seems normal until you get to know them. So be brief with people.

10. Never pass up an opportunity to go to the bathroom.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Yeah! I want Cheesy (Tots)!

I'm not hip enough to publicly not like fast food, so I'll admit I eat a lot of it on my "dinner hour" between The City and Big Green. Usually Arby's, McDonald's or Long John Silvers (Long Green Slivers as Eddy calls it).

There's a Burger King on the way as well, and though I'm pretty much off The King after eating so much in college (they were open late), I pop in so every so often I won't suffer from McBurnout, Roast Beef Malaise, or whatever the hell eating too much LJS will do.

The latest trip was largely disappointing as usual, but I discovered a new menu item: something called Cheesy Tots.

This one-time experimental breakfast item apparently caught on at BK and has built up a following. Some people have raved about them, and others have urged its return when taken offf the menu temporarily

I love tater tots (almost went to Sonic to get some actually) and I like cheese sticks, so I figured these golden brown, saucer-shaped chicken nugget-looking bites might be worth a shot.

Not so fast.

Maybe I got a bad batch or something, but I thought they were awful. The mix of mozzarella and cheddar cheeses was decent enough, but the deep-fried coating was hard and starchy and the few potato bits found inside distracted too much from the cheese. The lack of a dipping sauce was a problem, as ketchup didn't work well at all with the other flavors, and there are only so many condiments that might work. Though I might suggest they find some to mask the overall taste :-)

Still, for the price, it wasn't a bad deal. Burger King isn't exactly known for their culinary prowess in the first place (see also: Chicken Fries), and if you're sick of french fries and onion rings, it does add another option to the palette.

Just don't offer me any. I'll pass.

joke week '07 | day 4

An 80-year-old man went to his doctor for his quarterly check-up. The doctor asked him how he was feeling and the 80-year-old said

"Things are great and I've never felt better. I now have a 20 year-old bride who is pregnant with my child. So what do you think about that?"

The doctor considered his question for a minute and then began.

"I have an older friend, much like you, who is an avid hunter and never misses a season. One day when he was setting off hunting, he was in a bit of a hurry and accidentally picked up his umbrella instead of his gun. As he neared a lake he came across a very large beaver sitting at the water’s edge."

"When he realized he'd left his gun at home and so couldn't shoot the magnificent creature, out of habit he raised his umbrella, aimed it at the animal as if it were e his favorite hunting rifle and went 'bang, bang'. Miraculously, two shots rang out and the beaver fell over dead. Now, what do you think of that?" asked the doctor."

The 80-year-old said, "If you ask me, I'd say somebody else pumped a couple of rounds into that beaver."

The doctor replied, "My point exactly".

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Federated Plans to Change Name to Macy's

MSN Money & Business Wire reports

The management of Federated Department Stores wants to change the company's name. The retailer said a vote on changing its name to Macy's Group will occur at the company's annual meeting May 18. If approved, the name change will go into effect June 1.

"We're no longer a federation of retail stores; Macy's is 90% of our business," CEO Terry Lundgren told CNBC today.

Federated Department Stores, Inc. was originally chosen as the company's name in 1929 by a group of family-owned department stores that joined together under a corporate holding company umbrella.

Federated became an operating company in 1945, and its portfolio over the years has included various regional department store names.

In 2005 and 2006, all regional nameplates were converted to Macy's. The company today operates only Macy's and Bloomingdale's stores, with both brands expanding nationwide.

joke week '07 | day 3

A new supermarket opened near my house. It has an automatic water mister to keep the produce fresh. Just before it goes on, you hear the sound of distant thunder and the smell of fresh rain.

When you approach the milk cases, you hear cows mooing and experience the scent of fresh hay.

When you approach the egg case, you hear hens cluck and cackle, and the air is filled with the pleasing aroma of bacon and eggs frying.

The veggie department features the smell of fresh buttered corn.

I don't buy toilet paper there any more.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Wake Up, Smell the Coffee

Starbucks Coffee founder and chairman Howard Schultz complains that the chain's atmosphere has changed. Actually, it's worse than that: its stores are now an overdesigned, overcrowded mess. took them this long to figure out they're weakening the concept?

Gap to close Forth & Towne chain

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Gap Inc. is closing the Forth & Towne chain that was supposed to help the struggling retailer sell more clothes to older women, aborting the 18-month expansion so management can concentrate on reviving the company's more established brands.

The decision announced Monday affects all 19 Forth & Towne stores opened since Gap unveiled the concept in West Nyack, N.Y., north of New York City in August 2005. Forth & Towne's other stores are located in Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose and Santa Barbara.

The store closures are expected to be completed by the end of June, jettisoning about 550 jobs. Some of the affected employees may be transferred to one of the San Francisco-based company's other chains - Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic.

Signaling that some layoffs are likely, Gap is budgeting $7 million to cover severance payments and other benefits for former Forth & Towne workers, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Gap hoped to develop Forth & Towne into a specialty channel catering to women older than 35 who grew up in Gap jeans but found themselves sized out in the market in middle age. When it launched Forth & Towne, Gap estimated it only held a 3 percent share of over-35 female market compared to an 8 percent share of women shoppers under 35. Gap had hoped to woo boomers - who are at the peak of their earnings and spending power - back with a store that combined the service of a boutique, the broad offerings of a department store - and a more forgiving fit.

"Forth & Towne was a great test of a promising concept and an illustration of the innovative risks you need to take in our business," said Gap Chairman Bob Fisher. "We made the tough decision to close the brand and focus our efforts on stabilizing the existing businesses."

Fisher has been Gap's interim chief executive officer since last month when the retailer ended the nearly 4 1/2-year rein of Paul Pressler after a dismal holiday shopping season that represented a new low point in a prolonged sales funk.

In a key measure of a retailer's health, Gap's same-store sales fell 7 percent last year, deteriorating from a 5 percent decline in 2005. The closely watched yardstick measures sales at stores open at least a year.

Despite its troubles, Gap intends to continue investing in other promising concepts, including a recently launched online shoe store called Piperlime, company spokesman Greg Rossiter said.

Although abandoning Forth & Towne will drive up Gap's expenses by about $40 million during the first half of this year, industry analysts believe the company will be better off without the potential albatross.

"This brand never gained much traction, suffered from fit, style, and image problems and became a big distraction," Lazard Capital Markets analyst Todd Slater wrote in a Monday research note.

Retail analyst Jennifer Black said the expansion never made much sense, given Gap's troubles connecting with shoppers of all ages. "The landscape is so competitive that each retailer has to have a clear reason to be (in existence) and Forth & Towne, never had that," she said.

Gap shares fell 16 cents Monday to close at $19.65 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Scrapping Forth & Towne also may free up some merchandising talent to help with the turnaround efforts at the Gap and Old Navy chains. Analysts are particularly intrigued with the possibility that Forth & Towne's current president, Gary Muto, might now return to Gap, a chain that he led from August 2002 through September 2004.

Gap's sales improved during most of Muto's tenure at the chain. "If he were to return to the Gap brand, (it) would be a positive influence on the division," Stifel, Nicolaus & Co. analyst Richard Jaffe wrote in a Monday research note.

If Muto were to come back to the Gap, it probably wouldn't be as president because the company just promoted Marka Hansen - the former head of Banana Republic - to that job earlier this month.

Muto also once ran Banana Republic, making him a possible candidate to return to an upscale chain that has emerged as the best-performing of Gap's three brands.

Gap and Muto haven't agreed on a new assignment yet, Rossiter said. The company is expected to discuss the ramifications of the Forth & Towne closure Thursday when it reviews its fourth-quarter results in a conference call with analysts.

Forth & Towne's closure underscores the challenges facing clothing retailers catering to the graying baby-boom generation. Many merchants like Gap recently have been intensifying their focus on the niche, inspired by Chico's FAS Inc.'s successful formula for targeting boomers.

But now even Chico's is hitting a rough patch, having registered a 2.2 percent gain last fiscal year in its same-store sales. Chico's slowing same-store sales growth followed double-digit increases in the previous two years.