Saturday, December 13, 2003

Walmart....Friend or Foe?

Walmart offers everyday low prices and a huge variety of goods. Something we all want. I used to shop every week at Walmart, but believe it or not, it became more convenient to shop at another food chain. Convenience is worth something after all. My grocery bill came down because I wasn't buying all the extras that Walmart offers.

I don't really like shopping at Walmart. It's usually crowded and parking is a major headache. But the prices and variety can't be beat.

I try shopping at KMart when possible. It's only a couple of blocks out of my way and it's much easier to find a parking space and sometimes, they carry things I can't find at Walmart (probably because Walmart just hasn't restocked the shelves). KMart is more convenient and generally the prices aren't that much higher.

Neither store offers much in the help department. I can't find anyone to ask questions of, and finding a price on an item can be a real bee-atch!

I've included a link to an article about Walmart and just what the cost of shopping at Walmart can be.

I won't tell you not to shop at Walmart because I more than likely will go back at some time or another myself. But between this article and the eminent domain issue (see previous post), Walmart doesn't have the same appeal for me.

Christmas in Florida

Well, here it is, twelve days before Christmas. One day, I’m going to write The Twelve Days of a Florida Christmas, but not today.

Our high was somewhere around 72 degrees today with a low last night in the mid 40’s. I know, some of you are snowbound or digging out from a snowstorm, or hunkering down before one and want to know what I’m complaining about. I promise, I’m not complaining. I love these temps! We had a high yesterday around 67 degrees and the promise of more of the same in the next few days. I love it! I’ll be looking back on these days with fond memories during the summer doldrums when the daily temperature averages 95 degrees with a feels like of 105 and a humidity factor of somewhere around 85 percent. I have no idea whether a humidity of 85 percent and a temperature of 95 degrees comes anywhere near a feels like temperature of 105. Trust me, any inaccuracies in my figures don’t make that much difference. Although, I admit this last summer was fairly comfortable. We had lots of rain that kept the temperature down in the 80’s for most of the summer. And the humidity (90-100%) didn’t really bother me that much. Now, in other years, by the time the end of August rolled around, I was usually ready for winter. Not just ready, but damn ready! And in August we are usually looking at another two months of summer heat.

I lived in Kansas so I know what summer heat and winter cold are like. Summer in Kansas is about six weeks of hot, dry temps getting up into the 100’s. It’s a dry heat, but still hot. Add that heat to a humidity factor or 70% and more, and you have Florida. Winters are cold and snowy and, if you’re really lucky, icy. I remember scraping snow and ice off my windshield after work one day and saying, “And I left Florida for this!”

I don’t like being cold, but I figure, all things being equal, I can usually put something on to keep warm: a sweater, another sweater, a jacket, a blanket, or a pile of blankets if need be. I can drink something hot to warm me on the inside. When I’m hot, I can’t take enough off to cool off, I can get down to bare skin and that’s it. It’s still hot. Sure, a cool drink helps, but not for long enough. I can get into a pool of water, but if it’s in the sun, the coolest the water is gonna be is tepid. It might be a little cooler in the shade, but not much. I know. I’ve lived in Florida most of my life and I’ve tried it all. The only way to keep cool is to stay in the air-conditioned cool air of a house, workplace, or car. That’s one reason why so many Floridians don’t have tans. We spend a lot of time indoors because of the heat, but you want to know the real reason? We work for a living! Not all of us work on the golf course or as lifeguards.

What’s the downside of a Florida winter, you ask? The Yankees like it too. No, I don’t mean the New York Yankee ball team (they won’t be here until spring training starts in February), although they probably like the spring weather in February and March. I mean the tourists and those who live here three to six months of the year. They have the best of both worlds: the northern seasons of spring, summer, and fall and Florida winters. I don’t begrudge them coming to Florida; after all, they do keep our tax base down by spending money, but yes, indeed, they do have their faults.

I can’t wait until I retire and can vacation up north in the summer. I’ll drive slow in the fast lanes and make right turns from the left lane and left turns from the right lane. I’ll go to the Post Office at lunchtime, and do my shopping between 11 am and 2 p.m. and from 5 to 7 p.m. I’ll make doctor appointments for first thing in the morning, late afternoon, and just before and just after lunch. I’ll go to dinner between 6-8 p.m. And, I’ll be sure to tell everyone just how much better and cheaper we do it (whatever it is) in Florida.

Sunday, December 07, 2003

Pearl Harbor Day

December 7, 1941 – a day that shall live in infamy.

I would like to take a moment to remember the men who lost their lives 62 years ago today at Pearl Harbor. Not many people even knew where Pearl Harbor was that day. Over the next few days, Pearl Harbor became known to thousands of parents, wives, brothers and sisters, sweethearts and friends when they received word that their loved one died or was wounded in the attack.

The world changed that fateful day. We now knew where Pearl Harbor was. We were now at war. It was a just war, and a war that we would win. Many more men and women would die or be wounded in battle. Civilians would also die. That’s a fact of war, and it’s a tragedy.

Sixty-two years later we are fighting another battle. Not a declared war, but a war nonetheless. More men and women have lost their lives or were injured. Still more will lose their lives in the days, weeks, months, and years to come. That’s what happens in war. It’s not something that anyone wants to have happen. No one wants to see young men and women die. No one wants to see civilians die. It’s the cost of freedom.

We are free to make decisions. We are free to become successful in our lives and we are free to decide what is successful. We are free to disagree with our leaders. We are free to state out loud and publicly that we disagree. Not all citizens of the world have those freedoms.

Had we not responded sixty-two years ago, who knows where we would be today? We would not be the people, the country, we are today. We would not have responded as we did in Afghanistan or Iraq.

No matter what your feelings are about our reasons for being in Iraq, one thing is clear: we are there. Now, we must finish the battle. If we don’t, then all the men and women who sacrificed their lives since the Revolution will have died in vain.

And that would be a tragedy.