Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Thrill of the chill finds no quarter

It's cold again.

As the third quarter of 2009 ends today, the remaining quarter is shaping up like a football game. We gotta rally to win.

I want Brett Favre weather to line up over center for the fourth quarter, ready to rip bright sunshine and comforting warmth. But even Brett can't pull a Hail Mary on the chilly weeks ahead...the season of clouds and gloom is ready to knock down the pass.

There are the optimists who would suggest embracing the season...tripping to cider mills, taking a fall color tour, or decorating for Halloween. And I'm right with them!

But the thought of cold rain, premature snow flurries and perma-dark afternoons and evenings is already popping the goosebumps. I'll take two blankets and call you in the morning.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Cutting to prosperity hits the marketplace

If the economy is shrinking, there's no better evidence of it than at the local grocery store.

The bag of Dole cole slaw has been a 16 ouncer just about forever. Now it's weighing in at 14 ounces at, of course, the same retail price.

My apple cherry pecan breakfast muffins will continue to raise their little selves in the oven but I will have to shop for their wrappings almost twice as often. The paper muffin pan liners used to come in a 52-count container. Now the package count is 36, without a concurrent reduction in price.

It's part of a trend I've noticed over the past several years that I have dubbed The New Counting Standard. In other words, 10 donuts is the new dozen. A 14-1/2 ounce can of chicken broth is the new pint. I've read that our food purveyors are loath to reduce the price of an item, but have no problem cutting quantity.

We've had a whole generation of business students tuned to the concept of value-added. It's too bad economic conditions and cost slashing has led us to value-subtracted. I always thought it was easier to climb off a mountain instead of digging yourself out of a hole.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Respect for civility finds no audience

Yes. No. Thank you. Please. Congratulations.

These simple yet powerful words continue their devaluation in today's society. The current state of civility in the United States has gone lower than garter snake through the weeds. And I thought it bottomed out a decade ago.

No one seems to know when to shut up anymore. Worse yet, boorish behaviour or verbal indiscretions derided and dismissed by sensible people can be converted into fame, fortune or infamy by the perpetrator.

Joe Wilson, the South Carolina rep who dissed President Obama as a liar in a joint session of Congress, gets wrapped on the knuckles by his colleagues yet manages to raise millions for his re-election war chest. If we can't respect the message, can we at least respect the office?

Kanye West, rapper and self-styled video critic, upstages a young singer's greatest professional recognition on a national broadcast. And, the next night, he just happens to turn up on a late-night comedian's opening show with what is described as an apology. Orchestrated for ratings? The band plays on!

Respect for words reflects respect for people. Neither group now gets what it deserves.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Weather serves as metaphor for reinvigoration

It's amazing what a run of sunny skies, moderate temperatures, and bearable humidity can do for a region down on its luck and up on its bankruptcy.

People walk cheerfully with extra bounce, kids play engage in chatter and laughter with one another without the artificial aid of electronic gadgets, and store clerks feel the love with their customers. There is indeed a new day in Michigan and it is ours to enjoy.

For most of this summer, the weather has been a combination of cold drizzles, cumulus sun blockers, and temperatures more suitable for October. The new wave climate of early September has removed the stain of a summer lost for vacationers, golfers, gardener and other weather worshipers.

Sure, the leaves will turn color and the air will ripple with cutting chill before month's end. Change is inevitable and somewhat welcomed.

But I believe that change will mark a seismic shift in the outlook and attitude of a region that has picked itself off the ground many times before now. Better days are ahead.