Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Just today a customer brought up a subject I have thought about for years and years now. I'm thinking this whole subject hit me around 40 years ago when I was working down in Sacramento out in the North area around Fulton and Marconi Avenues.

The business world came out with this new fangled idea of a super sized store called "White Front". Remember them back then? I think the first one was on El Camino Ave. I remember back then being in wonder at just the sheer size of the thing and the amazing amount of products they carried. Seems to be what drove people into this new type of store back then was the prices. As we all now know, the whole business idea was they can buy everything in huge lots and get things much cheaper than the corner family market can. They then can sell things much cheaper.

Well history tells us those days were just the beginning of this new phenomena. Since then, probably dozens of those kinds of "big box" stores have sprung up across the country. Now we have Cosco, Best Buy, Office Depot, Office Max, Target, Staples. Then all the Hardware giants who cropped up in the last few years, like Home Depot, Lowe's etc, etc. Then there is of course the king and ruling master of huge, Wall-mart.

Now placing myself back to those years about 40 years ago, I can clearly remember having a slight but real little uneasy feeling in my gut about the whole new concept of these huge stores. What came into my feeble mind back then was the stories I had heard growing up about what life was like back in the early timber industry towns. I was told these little towns were developed and operated by the giant timber companies. These little towns were located way out in the boonies, way out in the forested areas where the trees were.

So the Timber companies would build these little houses for the workers to live in, plus the company put in these little stores for the workers. It was far too far to go to the nearest town to buy what they needed, so their only choice was the company store. I'm told they didn't even pay the slaves/workers in actual money. They paid them in company script. With this script, the slaves could pay to rent their little company houses and buy whatever food and sundry items they needed from the company store.

So having these thoughts running around my noggin, I saw this future potential for humans where when we said we needed to go to the "store", we meant "The Store". Just one store where everything one needed would be there. You would go to "The Store" for your food, banking, haircuts, pharmaceuticals, theaters, tires, butcher shop, clothing, shoes, glasses, hearing aids................well, I think you get the picture now huh? Looking around nowadays, how far off are we from that very scenario?

What also seems to be the inevitable outcome of all this is these giant stores pretty much wipe out all the Mom and Pop stores of every kind. How can these regular people trying to run a small business compete with these giants without their extreme buying power? When the giants buy shoes by the millions at a time, how can the little family shoe store compete when they only buy a dozen at a time.

The other negative issues would be just the sheer congestion involved in everyone climbing into their cars to go to this one store. Especially when they seem to locate the damn things right in the middle of neighborhoods where we live. The other bothersome reality is this whole new phenomena just keeps on creeping slowly but surely into our lives. So slowly that we collectively don't seem to be very upset about where this might eventually lead us.

I'm telling you right now that our local governments are only too happy to have these monsters among us for the income in sales taxes they generate for the bureaucrats in office who are supposed to be looking out for our futures. The very people we vote for ultimately could care less about our future needs in this regard. They only care about the mighty buck and getting re-elected to their cushy, do nothing lifetime jobs, with lifetime benefits. By the way, the ONLY money the local area gets is that sales tax. The millions and millions in profits go who-in-the-hell-knows where?......China maybe? The employees? Minimum wage with no benefits at all that I know of.

Now I'm sure there are many, many other reasons why we quite possibly should look into the future of all this with a certain amount of apprehension and fear even but I think we all get the drift of what I'm trying to say.......


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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Changing definition of "Old"...

I started out the last blog with this idea in mind and got completely off the subject, which turned it into a different blog all together. So lets try to stay on task with this one, you silly space case old hippy dude.

The thing that comes to my feeble, wandering mind this time is how many folks I'm coming in contact with nowadays who are incredibly healthy, vibrant and still contributing members of society on into their much later years. Aren't you seeing this new phenomena also in your lives with people you know or see everyday?

Seems like only yesterday 50, 60 and 70 year old people were just this side of dead, if not already. If not gone, they were confined to wheelchairs or walkers by that age. I'm sure all of us have heard that the farther back in time you study human history, old age was at a time in life much younger than it is now. I've heard of folks from the "cowboy days" for instance only living into their 40's. People in their 40's back then were just this side of looking up at roots instead of down at the grass.

Some examples I can think of just off the top of my twisted, feeble mind and personal experience would be:

I just talked to the best example yesterday. This is a man I know who just turned 90 years old. He spent his life as the owner operator of a well drilling company. On top of working super hard his whole life, he has also been a musician playing in a western music band with friends and relatives. Well, he finally sold the company and retired just a few years back but still to this day plays gigs late into the night at various venues. He still works out in his yard, plants and attends his garden. He still drives his car anywhere he wants to go and is in my view quite vibrant, healthy and happy in his "older" years. He tells me he knows he probably only has a little time left but lives each day with glee and gusto.

Another man I know is 75 years old and still works in the building industry full time. He walks in with a full tool belt hanging on his belt, a pocket full of pencils for planning out his jobs and a work truck completely full of a hard working man's power tools. Everything he does he does with vigor, energy and apparently a strong back. He's the kind of man who talks, walks and works fast and with purpose. I truly doubt most young people could stay up with him throughout a long hard day at work.

I could go on and on with examples of people I personally know or have met through these past years who defy everything we thought we knew about what one can or should be doing in our "older" years. All I know is this whole thing has been completely redefined for those of us in those age brackets in this new time of human history.

This new "older" generation also have changed the whole idea of retiring also. In our fathers time, his generation could not wait to retire, take out the lawn and put in gravel. Set about getting everything in their lives as maintenance free as possible so they could spend their days in the rocking chair relaxing. Maybe a little traveling. As we know, after about 6 months in the rocking chair, they were found with their heads on their chests gone for the count, finally obtaining the ultimate nap. Obviously, this whole life thing involves a great deal of "use it or lose it" now doesn't it?

We all have to ask the obvious questions now don't we? Why are we now living so much longer in great health and with pretty good energy levels compared to our forefathers and mothers? Not the energy of youth. That's for sure but plenty of energy to do whatever you want with breaks in between the bursts. How is this possible?

The changes that have enabled us to live so much longer and better that come to mind right off the bat would be the whole present emphasis on health. Healthy living, exercising, healthy eating and probably most important healthy attitudes about and with life in general. Of course we have to hand our doctors and their associates a healthy dose of thanks, gratitude and appreciation for the modern medicinal approaches to the subject of health. We now can take blood pressure pills, cholesterol pills, adult daily aspirin, Hallelujah and whoopee for Viagra huh? and anything else one requires for their good long standing health.

So the bottom line here is we all need to look around at all the "older" folks still contributing to the good of society with the experience and expertise they apply to their jobs, the companies they own or work for and for just still being with us. Add to this we all owe them a note of gratitude for the wisdom they have acquired over a lifetime of knowledge and just plain know how they teach everyone who are lucky enough to be around them.

Maybe society owes them a great big THANK YOU! I'm sure that would just embarrass them but would also give them a warm fuzzy feeling deep down inside.......and we all certainly could use one of those from time to time in this crazy world we find ourselfs in huh?

By the way...........being only 39, none of this applies in the slightest to me.......I just thought I would write a piece about all you "older" folks......


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