Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Sears limps closer to its final finish line

Sears wasn’t a supreme presence in my life growing up.

I don’t recall that there was a physical Sears retail presence in Worcester until the Sears store opened at the Auburn Mall in the early 1970’s, when I had one foot out the Worcester door and the other one not far behind it. Plus Sears clothing was always just a bit “off” as far as my heightened and sophisticated fashion sense went.

My family did get the Sears catalog, but I don’t remember my mother ordering much from it. When she went shopping, she dressed up, got on the bus, and went “down city” to one of the many stores that still graced downtown Worcester. (Ah, those were the days.) Not that my mother was averse to ordering things without having a hands-on experience. My parents always belonged to at least one book club – Book of the Month, Literary Guild, Classics, Vision Books (for Catholic kids). They also bought most of their albums from the Columbia Records catalog. And for a while my mother belonged to some tchotchke of the month that brought some “foreign” whatever that gave our house an international flair. (That little Greek plate is hanging on the wall, over my shoulder, as I write this post.)

But that Sears catalog… I loved thumbing through it in its entirety, especially drawn to the small toy section and completely intrigued by the pages that displayed fruitcakes, tinned cookies and petit fours. 1972_Sears_Christmas_Catalog_Fruitcake

I had never had fruitcake. All I knew about them was the jokes. And yet my sweet tooth drew me there, to gaze longingly at those colorful treats.

Fast forward a bunch of decades and I occasionally had a tire rotated at a Sears automotive, or looked at Kenmore appliances. I think we bought a TV there 20 years ago. I seem to remember a boombox or two. But I may well be thinking Lechmere Sales or Best Buy.

My most indelible Sears experience was working there one year when I was in college.

I have had plenty of crappy jobs in my life, but working as a customer complaint taker at Sears was right up there. Who needed training? Just answer the phone and write down whatever the pissed-off customer has to say. (Ten+ years ago, when I was a wee broth of a blogger, I did a piece on my experience on this particular job.)

And now Sears, which has been limping along for quite a while now – its workforce declined from 300K to 68K in the past decade – is limping ever closer to what is likely their inevitable finish line. One foot in the grave, the other on a banana peel. Sigh. I’m an old lady. I miss the iconic brands of my youth, even if I’ve done absolutely zero to help prevent or slow their demise.

The company lost about $5.8 billion over the last five years and shut down more than a thousand stores over the past decade. Many of the 700 stores that remain have frequent clearance sales, empty shelves and handwritten signs. (Source: NY Times)

Nothing says “let’s shop here” like empty shelves and handwritten signs.

Sounds like they’re ready for EOL.

Nonetheless, it’s depressing to think about all the folks who’ll be losing their jobs when the 142 stores on the chopping block shut their doors – even though there are plenty of other not-so-hot retail jobs out there for the asking. It’s depressing because, for all the retail clerks who are there because one crappy job’s the same as the next, I’m pretty sure there are plenty of lifers who, for whatever reason, have been working at “their” Sears for 10, 20, 30 years. It’s where they go each day. It’s who they take a lunch break with. It’s the regulars they recognize from waiting on them over the years.

Shed a tear for Sears? Hardly. Edward Lampert – the hedgie who runs Sears – will no doubt come out ahead.

It’s the little guys I feel bad for – even though when I was a little guy at Sears, futilely answering the phones, I hated every moment of it.

And, of course, there’s now even less likelihood that I’ll ever get one of those tinned fruitcakes I had my eye on 60 years ago. Of course, if there are any out there, they’re probably still as edible as they ever where.

Anyway, it may be a tiny bit premature, but so long Sears.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Chole’s stocking was hung by the chimney with care.

Even though the stores are all candy-corned up at present, it’s never to early to think about Christmas. Thus, although I never order anything from The Company Store, I was nonetheless delighted to get their “Get Your Home Ready for the Holidays Catalog.” Other than the tree, the wreathe, the poinsettias, and the greens – and I won’t be doing them until December – I already pretty much “have everything I need to create an inviting holiday home for family & friends.” Still, I like to look at stuff, even when I have no intention of buying anything.

Anyway, I was paging through the catalog when, what to my wondering eyes did appear than an array of cuter than cute Christmas stockings, labeled with names that the folks who order matching family PJs from The Company Store may well name their kids.

Company store

Noah. Benjamin. Avery. Stella. Jack. Elizabeth. Amelia. Samantha. Henry. Nary a Brandon nor Jaden, no Destiny, no Nevaeh (that’s heaven spelled backwards, btw) in sight. They even have their pet stockings labeled: the somewhat retro Ginger for a cat, and the more on current point Baily for a dog.

And then there’s the stocking for Chole.

Chole? Huh?

I did go to the google to see if I’d missed a cultural moment when one of the Kardashians or one of their pals named a baby Chole, setting off a naming flurry that resulted in enough little Choles out there, such that the name was now up there with Avery and Henry. But I mostly came away empty.

Which is not to say that the name Chole doesn’t exist. I really had to dig, but I did come up with a couple of baby name sites that list it as a nickname for Soledad, or as a regular old American name that means “Victory of the People.” But I put as much faith in those baby name sites as I do the sites that show the heraldry, the coat of arms for everyone with an English or Irish last name. (The illustrious Rogers family, when they weren’t grubbing around to see if there were any praties that hadn’t yet rotted, apparently had a crest with three deer on it. Right.)

Anyway, I couldn’t find anyone who was actually named Chole. And when you search for Chole, most of what you get back are recipes for chole marsala, a Punjabi chick-pea dish.

Chole. Maybe it actually is a diminutive for Soledad. And maybe there are folks with little ones named Soledad, who call their little one Chole. If so, then props to The Company Store for their nod to diversity. You’d think, however, given that all their other stocking names are on the Top Whatever list, that they might have used something more common. Like Soledad. As in journalist Soledad O’Brien.

But you know what I’m thinking? I’m thinking they weren’t trying to appeal to the Hispanic demo, let alone to anyone who named their kid Chole because it means Victory of the People. I’m thinking that they meant that stocking to say Chloe.

In which case, I’m sorry that they printed all those lovely four-color catalogues with the name Chloe misspelled.

I know what it’s like to do a print job and discover, when you open the box, that there’s a big, glaring typo/spello staring you in the face.

I was in marketing before the Internet existed, and back in those days, you actually had to print your brochures out. Oh, folks still do print stuff. But it’s not like it used to be. A lot of stuff just gets put on the web as regular old copy or as a pdf. Which makes mistakes very easy to correct.

Before heading out on vacation, I once okayed brochure copy for an 8-page, 4-color, well-designed piece. For once, we had a bit of budget, so I got to work with an actual designer. A very sweet piece. I just loved it. Let’s print 10,000 of them! (Why not? The marginal cost of everything in the print run over 5,000 was negligible. Of course, if we’d given everyone in the world with even a tangential interest in this product 10 copies of the brochure, we still would have had plenty of them left over even if we’d just bought 5,000. But that’s how we used to think, back in the day.)

Anyway, I had someone lined up to proof the galleys, but she didn’t catch the glaring error that I had missed. I didn’t blame here at all. This one was clearly on me. Naturally, after the brochures were delivered, the guy who headed Quality Assurance left one on my desk with the word “illude” circled. Oops. I had meant “elude.” Should have asked him to proof the copy to begin with.

I sat there trying to convince myself that there was a way in which “illude” could kinda-sorta work. But I was kidding myself.

Anyway, we had no budget to do a reprint of the run.

So we lived with illude. Serves me right for using a fancy-arse word to begin with.

And, of course, no one noticed.

And, of course, there are probably 9,000 of those left over brochures rotting away in a landfill somewhere.

I suspect that same will be true with the Chole stocking. But at least the person – if they search for “name Chole” versus just “Chole” will find that at least some people think it’s a name.

And there’s always the possibility that they intended the name to be Chole to begin with. Which I don’t believe in the least. It just doesn’t go with Stella and Jack. I’m sticking with Chloe.

(Nice to have so much free time that I can dwell on nonsense like this, is it not?)

Merry Christmas, Chole, wherever you are!

Friday, October 12, 2018

Rocket J. Squirrel, emotional support animal

Well, last winter it was the performance artist who attempted to fly with her emotional support peacock. I thought that was somewhat out there.

Now it’s the woman who tried to take a Frontier Airlines flight from Orlando to Cleveland accompanied by her emotional support squirrel.

As I’ve written in the past – c.f., my post (linked above) on the emotional support peacock: I’m both pro-animal and pro-emotional support. But there are limits to my pro-ness, and a wild, non-domesticated animal is where those limits are found.

I will give you that squirrels are adorbs. But they are basically rats with cuter faces and better tails.

Seriously, who looks to a jacked-up version of a rat for emotional support?

The answer is the woman trying to get from Orlando to Cleveland, accompanied by her own little Rocket J. Squirrel, minus that old-fashioned leather aviator’s helmet, and minus the moose companion. (On a disturbing personal note, I saw a video of the woman being escorted off the plane in a wheelchair, giving everyone in her glide path the finger. She reminded me of my late mother in law…)

A Frontier spokesman said in a statement that the passenger had alerted the airline that she would be bringing an emotional-support animal on the flight but did not mention it would be so . . . bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

“Rodents, including squirrels, are not allowed on Frontier flights,” the statement read. “The passenger was advised of the policy and asked to deplane.”

When the passenger declined, others aboard Flight 1612, which was traveling from Orlando to Cleveland, were forced to deplane so that authorities could remove the woman from the aircraft. (Source: WaPo)

The still anonymous squirrel lady was finally rolled off of the plane. The commotion resulted in a flight delay of 2 hours.

Frontier’s policy doesn’t allow rodents as emotional-support animals: cats and dogs, only. Which, truly, seems plenty sufficient when it comes to the need for an emotional support animal. Oh, I’m sure there are arguments that can be made for ferrets and pot-bellied pigs, but, come on, there has to be a limit. If the sky were the limit on what sort of animal could be brought on board on the basis of what in many cases is a fake certificate purchased on the Internet, why stop at squirrels? Why not rats – and not those cute little pet white rats. I’m talking city rats, like the one whose carcass I almost tripped over in the gutter while crossing Beacon at Charles the other day. (Fortunately or unfortunately, that sucker was no longer in any condition to provide emotional support.) And why not snakes on planes? What if someone derives immense emotional support from a boa constrictor or a cobra? Wouldn’t you just love to be on a flight when one of those slithered lose? Why not a baby alligator? They’re cute, if not cuddly.

(Frontier has fewer restrictions on trained service animals, allowing miniature horses in addition to dogs and cats. I’m a bit surprised they don’t also allow capuchin monkeys, which are often used as assistive companions for those with mobility issues. Maybe they do, but it just wasn’t mentioned.)

I’m all for the airlines cracking down on what members of the animal kingdom can fly. And maybe a good first step would be a bit stricter about the documentation required to claim the requirement of emotional support. Ordering an “official” certificate for your furry, feathered, or snake-skinned friend is about as difficult as ordering some Bose headphones or a soap dish from Amazon.

While I am experienced with ordering Bose headphones and soap dishes form Amazon, I actually didn’t know just how easy it is to get one of these certificates, not first hand, paw or claw, anyway. So I went and looked. Pretty damned easy.

Some of them even have “doctors” on staff that evaluate your application, which includes questions on whether you’re ever overwhelmed, discouraged, pessimistic, burnt out, sad, unhappy, worried, frustrated, burdened….

Have these folks looked at the state of the nation lately? Sure looks like a no-fail test to me!

Oh, you’re supposed to give the names of any doctors or therapists you’re seeing, but the app doesn’t ask for any contact info for those. And how much follow up is anyone going to do when all you’re going to spend is $69 for the basic pet certification kit??

You’re also asked to list your meds. Seems like it would be plenty easy to gin a list up.

Bottom line on certifying your animal: it doesn’t look like it would be too hard to fake any of this.

(The one app I read through did say that if you indicated that you were ever suicidal, the “doctor” evaluating your application might call you. Plus it noted that, if you wanted more than just your certification papers and special pet collar, you could sign up with one of their “doctors” for tele-therapy. Still….)

Meanwhile, I do have a question for the woman who tried to fly with a squirrel: are you by any chance a graduate of Wcaossamotta U? Asking for a friend…

Thursday, October 11, 2018

City Girl, Europhile Edition (Part Two)

Yesterday, I started a post on the top cities for tourists in Europe – at least according to the readers of Travel and Leisure.

That post was something of a stroll down memory lane, as city-loving me has been to Budapest (15), Prague (14), Edinburgh (13), Paris (12), and Madrid (11). So I did a bit of meandering around, and ran out of runway. Which brings us to today’s post on the next 10 cities on the list.

I know I’ve been to Spain’s San Sebastián (Number 10), but I remember nothing about it, other than that the ocean was really gray. Maybe if I remembered something about it, I’d want to return. Or not.

I’ve not been to 9th place Siena. but I fantasize about a Tuscan villa, with day trips to Siena and other fabulous old towns. I’ve not been to 8th place Lisbon, either. But Portugal is on my bucket list. So maybe some day…

On our second trip to Prague, our second city was Kraków (Number 7). We loved this place. We stayed in the charming Hotel Francuski, close to the Planty Park, which girds Krakow’s Old Town. While we enjoyed our visit here, it was kind of eerie. There was no escaping its proximity to Auschwitz (which we, of course, visited). Sorry for the segue after just mentioning Auschwitze, but in Krakow, we ate surprisingly well. I had envisioned Polish food as all beets, lard and perogies. We did eat at a perogie restaurant – which set out tin cups of ham-flecked lard to eat of dark bread that was as thick as a brick, but for some reason, there were some nice French restaurants there in Krakow, and we ate at a couple of those. We also ate once at McDonald’s, mostly because it was located in the cellar of a 13th century building. And, once we discovered them, we snacked every day on pretzels from street vendors. Yummers.

There must have been something in the sangria because, while I know Joyce and I went to Barcelona (Number 6) on our way to the beach at Sitges, I remember nothing about it. Surely, we at least walked by the cathedral??? By that point, our trip was winding down, so maybe we were museumed and cathedraled out. Maybe – and I never thought I’d say this – we were citied out, too. On the other hand, I have many memories of hanging out in Sitges for a week or so, we’re we lolled in the sun all day, mostly hung out with other American kids, and ate mussels (and drank sangria) every night. Most vividly, we ran into an American fellow who had graduated from college a few weeks before. With $1,000 in Traveler’s Checks in his pocket – and the romantic notion in his noggin that he would be trekking around Europe for months, perhaps years – he had landed in Europe. (Luxembourg, I’m thinking.) At his first port of call, someone had convinced him that the best way to see Europe was by car, and he’d invested much of his $1,000 stash in taking a car off the hands of that someone. It broke down shortly, but somehow he made his way to Sitges, where all the other American kids helped him out with a few bucks. (I know we fed him a couple of times.) He was too embarrassed to go home so soon after he had bid his family and friends so long. Like me, this guy is pushing 70. Wonder how he tells the story…

Seville, Spain (Number 5) and Porto, Portugal (Number 4) are not cities I have ever given one nanosecond of thought to, beyond typing this sentence in. So there. But if Portugal’s on my bucket list, Porto may sneak on it as well

Third place went to Istanbul. During our mega-1973 Euro tour, we did get to Turkey, but Izmir only. An interesting enough place where we stayed in a 50 cent a night hotel, with hall toilets that were holes in the floor. And, oh yes, they turned the water off in the toilets at night. I felt like we were in a Camus novel…

Rome is number 2. And I can see why. Rome is chaotic but fascinating, and I love that, when you’re walking about, there’s an ancient room, Bernini fountain, or Renaissance cathedral around every corner. I’ve been to Rome three times, and much enjoyed each trip. Not enough to feel I have to get back there. If I’m going to see someplace in Italy (other than all those fabulously scenic towns in Tuscany) well, see Naples and die, I guess.

T&E’s number 1 is Florence. Another city from the 1973 Euro-thon. I loved Florence, and remember standing on the Ponte Vecchio and thinking ‘these Italians sure know how to live.’ Even with limited funds, we lived well for a few days in Florence, mostly living off of prosciutto and melon – the first time I had this scrumptious delight. When I figure out that Tuscany tour, I shall return.

Meanwhile, whattsamatta with Berlin? London? Copenhagen? Guess Travel and Leisure readers have a bias towards places in the sun. (How did Edinburgh sneak in there?) Nonetheless, for a city girl, Europhile, list lover, thinking through the list gave this armchair traveler a good deal of pleasure. And makes me want to go somewhere. Next week, if not tomorrow…

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

City Girl, Europhile edition (Part One)

I’m a city girl. Always have been, always will be. My idea of a great vacation is going to a city. Mostly in Europe, but I’ve traveled extensively throughout the US as well. But I’m a major-league Europhile, so I was interested in a recent Travel and Leisure article that ranked the top European cities to visit. (I think the cities were voted by the mags readership.)

15th place went to Budapest. A number of years ago, my husband and I spent a few days there on a trip that included Prague. I found it very interesting, right down to the bullet holes from the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 – or were they from WWII? I liked hanging out in the cafés along the Corso, drinking voros bor (that’s red wine to those of you who don’t have two words of Hungarian; those are mine) and even spending a bit of time in the Café Europa – a real throwback to what I imagine hangouts were like before the war. (Pick a war, any war.) I remember the goulash was delish. Margaret Island was lovely. And our hotel looked out on the Chain Bridge that crosses the Danube and connects Buda and Pest. I can’t remember exactly when I was there – late 1990’s? early 2000’s? – and I’m too lazy to dig up an old passport. But it was during Hungary’s transition to a market economy, and they actually had a Dunkin’ Donuts there. Unfortunately, they’ve since transitioned to a right-wing nationalist form of government. Glad I got there once, but have not desire to return.

Prague (Number 14), on the other hand, I completely loved. We landed there, exhausted, in the middle of a ferocious rainstorm. We decided to do dinner in the top floor of our hotel. (A very nice one – best breakfast spread I’ve ever seen in my life. I still remember the sour cherries, Napoleons and champagne.) While we were eating, the rain stopped and the sun came out, just in time for sunset. The skies were purple and the sun brought out the ochre, orange and gold in all the old buildings. I believe that Prague was considered an open city. In any case, it wasn’t destroyed during WWII and all those beautiful old baroque churches and castles remain intact. Pure magic. The food wasn’t much, but did we love walking around this city. And taking their excellent subway, which cost about five cents and was far more modern than public transpo in the US. I can still hear the stations being announced: Mustek…I.P. Pavlova. The only downside of taking the the subway was the fact that, at least back then, not many Czechs used deodorant. While in Prague, I felt very European, especially when I was asked for directions once in German. (Despite having next to no German, I was actually able to help these folks out.) I was also asked something in Czech, which I had nary a word of, beyond thank you. The woman got quite annoyed that I didn’t understand here. Despite her pissiness, we much liked Prague and returned for a second time.

Edinburgh came out 13th. I first visited Edinburgh in 1973, and remember little about it other than the castle looming over the city, and that it was dark, cold and gloomy. Not so fast forward to 2015, when I went again. This was a year after my husband died, and I was meeting up there with my sister Trish and her family for a few days. I went a few days early, the first pleasure trip I’d ever taken on my own. I’d been on plenty of solo business trips, and some of those had included a day of sightseeing. But this was my first on-my-own vacation junket. The castle still loomed over the city, but it was bright and sunny. The museums were great. I took a day-tour of the Highlands. (Corny but excellent.) And, once my sister and her family arrived to bolster my nerve, tried haggis. My Edinburgh regret is that I didn’t buy a Harris tweed pocketbook. I thought I’d be able to get one at the Edinburgh Airport, but shopping-wise, Edinburgh Airport is no Shannon. There wasn’t much there on offer.

How can Paris be Number12? The first time I saw Paris, in 1973, I fell in love with the city. And that’s when I was staying in a hostel and traveling with little by way of money. My friend Joyce and I spend 5 months hitching around Europe, and Paris was a place we both adored. I vividly recall racing around the Louvre with packs of other tourists, trying to find our way form the Mona Lisa to Wing Victory to Venus de Milo. Mostly at the Louvre, I’m embarrassed to admit, we were bored. We’d both taken modern art in college, and found the Jeu de Paume more to our liking. In Paris, I (accidentally) ate calf’s brain and (on purpose) ate at McDonald’s. Just because. I vowed that Paris was one place I’d return to, and I have been back a handful of times with my husband. Getting back there one more time is on my bucket list. I need to drop a bit of my husband’s ashes off in the Tuileries Garden. I thought Prague was beautiful, but Paris is the most beautiful city I’ve even been in. Hands down.

My one and only time in Madrid (Number 11) was on that 1973 pan-European post-student trip with my friend Joyce. Franco was still in charge, and policemen were unfriendly, fascistic and scary. The Prado was dark. Although through most of our trip we camped or hosteled, in Madrid we stayed at a nasty B&B in someone’s apartment. One of the original AirBnB’s. Our room was sweltering, had no window, and a ceiling made of some rough weave black cloth. That we’d taken one of our few train rides to get there – we tried to hitchhike most places, but for some reason we took a train to Madrid – and had gotten bitten alive by mites didn’t help with my impression of Madrid. Glad I went. No desire to go back.

Too much ground to cover, even as an armchair traveler. I’ll get to the next 10 spots in tomorrow’s post.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Lunchbox support groups? YGTBKM!

Growing up, there were a couple of things I really craved.

One was a pogo stick. I’d never actually seen a pogo stick in real life, only on TV and in books. But I sure wanted one.

Another was boot-style, lace-up roller skates. Most of us slogged around on those heavy metal skates with the red webbed straps and the skate key. Our sidewalks weren’t all that even, so the skates shook loose and you had to stop and tighten them every few minutes. What a drag! Plus those skates were so heavy hanging off our skinny little legs. What a drag!

I did know one girl who had those lace-up skates. Mary B, a cute little red-headed only child. (Only children had all kinds of stuff the rest of us could only dream of.)

And the final object of my little heart’s desire was a lunch box. Red plaid. Alice in Wonderland. Cinderella. Mattered not. I just wanted one. One with a thermos bottle, of course.

At my school, kids went home for lunch. Only those who lived on the fringes of the parish, too far to walk back and forth, or those rarities whose mothers worked, got to eat lunch at school. And thus got to carry a lunch box. The rest of us, we legged it home where, at least in my home, lunch meant slurping down a bowl of CampbBunker Hillbilliesell’s soup, gulping down a sandwich, and plunking in front of Big Brother Bob Emery’s Small Fry Club on WBZ-TV for a few minutes of cartoons, contests, ukulele strumming and – on a really good day - performances by the Bunker Hillbillies (a band of boys from the Boys Club in the Charlestown section of Boston). What I wouldn’t have given to see these superstars in person! I believe that Bimbo was one of their signature tunes, back when bimbo didn’t mean bimbo).

In 7th and 8th grade they switched us to junior high mode so that we would be better prepared for high school. Our hours changed – started earlier in the morning, and got out at 2 rather than 3  - and everyone had to eat at school. For some reason, we weren’t allowed to eat in the school’s lunchroom. We ate at our desks, after we covered them with a piece of reusable plastic.

By 7th grade it was way too late to carry a lunch box. Sigh. We were in brown paper bag territory now. What was in that bag was up to me. Which meant that 4 days a week I ate a bologna sandwich on white bread, with a dill pickle. (The dill pickle sliced by me and wrapped in Saran Wrap which, as often as not, leaked.) On Friday I ate an American cheese sandwich on white bread, with a dill pickle. Or a PBJ on white. I drank a carton of milk to wash the sandwich down.

I usually brought a piece of fruit. When I had a nickel, I’d buy a bag of Wachusett potato chips or a packet of Kraft Caramels. Mostly I didn’t have a nickel.

This went on through high school. My high school had a caf that sold food, but the menu was pretty limited and dreadful and I don’t think I ever paid for lunch there.

I don’t remember any of my classmates carrying a lunch any more exciting than mine. And as far as I can recall, the only mother involved in lunch packing was that of my high school friend Kath. And I only remember that because Mrs. H wrapped Kath’s bananas in Saran Wrap.

I know that things have changed mother-child-wise since I was a girl. And that there are a lot of competitive mommy types out there. Still, I was a bit taken aback by a recent WSJ article on the competitive world of school lunches. (The link was sent to be by my sister Kath, another brown-bagging, lunch-making student of yore.)

These days, pics of fancy-arse lunches are posted on Insta. Like the one that contained.

..veggie and tofu samosas, surrounded by an assortment of eight fruits and vegetables, including broccoli, grapes and lupini beans.

The kids might want a Spider Man or Selena Gomez lunchbox, but tofu samosas and lupini beans – whatever they are – are more likely to be served up in a $30 on up bento box, like this one from Yumboxes:

Bento box

Now there’s a lunchbox that never saw Oscar Mayer bologna on white.

Yumbox revenue is up, thanks to the 90% increase in Instagram posts about lunchboxes that occurred through the first eight months of this year.

One dad puts together “an elaborate themed lunch” each Monday – with a theme like Willie Wonka, Princess Bride, and Star Wars. One mom goes Sue Grafton with lunches dedicated to a letter of the alphabet.The O lunchbox “included an orzo salad, an orange and an Oreo cookie.” Thank God for quinoa and zucchini.

The lunchbox craze has helped fuel a cottage industry that includes specialized utensils, pre-written parental love notes and lunchbox-planning apps.

Inevitably, a number of lunchbox support groups have sprung up. I just couldn’t bring myself to look at any of them.

But I must say I’m stopped in my tracks by the idea of “pre-written parental love notes.”

I came from an era when there was no such thing as a “parental love note.” Maybe we got a birthday card, but I wouldn’t bet on it. Even if my mother had made my lunch, I can’t imagine ever finding a love note tucked in it. And I didn’t have kids to write love notes to.

I suspect, however, that if I had had kids, I would have been a love-note writer. It’s just the way I roll. But a “pre-written parental love note.” YGTBFKM. How hard is it to scrawl a smiley face on a PostIt note and sign it Love, Mom? If you’re spending all that time prepping tofu samosas for a Bento box, surely you have time to pen your own little love note.

But what do I know…

Monday, October 08, 2018

Happy Indigenous Peoples Day

As a kid, I – of course – loved Columbus Day. No school. Generally decent weather. A much needed break after 4-5 weeks of having a ton of nonsense drilled in to my head, courtesy of the nuns at Our Lady of the Angels. (Sure, they also drilled some worthwhile stuff in there. I can still do mental arithmetic.)

As an adult, I was a bit more ‘meh’ on Columbus Day. It was a holiday at some places, but gradually the day after Thanksgiving took over as a holiday, and Columbus Day became one of those you-choose, optional days off. If you didn’t have to get into a car to get there – traffic being generally insane in these parts on this day - it was actually a pretty easy-peasy low-key day to work.

But, in general, for me, Columbus Day has been a nice little do-nothing holiday that came with no obligations whatsoever. What’s not to like about a holiday that doesn’t require shopping, wrapping, cooking, card addressing, etc?

Make that it has been a nice little do-nothing holiday as long as I actually didn’t have to think about Christopher Columbus who, rather than the hero of Nina-Pinta-Santa Maria doggerel, was apparently a nasty, racist old git.

Anyway, a couple of years back, I proposed that we jettison Columbus Day and replace it with Immigrants Day. I still think we need an Immigrants Day – now more than ever. But I’ve come around to swapping out Columbus Day and swapping in Indigenous Peoples’ Day.  God knows we own those folks something for the terribleness we’ve rained down on their heads over the centuries.

For my part, I plan on “celebrating” the day by taking in Michael Moore’s new film, Fahrenheit 11/9. 

That should put me in an excellent mood…

Nonetheless, Happy Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Sorry about all that rotten treatment, even though my immigrant peeps arrived way to late to take part in it.