Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Followup to Nov. 26, 2008 Post "Sometimes Corporations are Beyond Belief"

Or should I have titled this post "Tanimura & Antle 3 -- Sam's Club 0"? I'm done bashing Sam's Club. However, I would like to put in another plug for Tanimura & Antle produce. It continues to be awesome. Recently found that Albertson's carries some T&A produce. Checked it out -- just as good as reported the first time. Cauliflower -- exceptionally pristine and fresh, celery as good as usual. Why bother reporting this? Because I have experience that makes me feel they market better produce, and because of the way they treated me well I feel good about buying their products.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Heroes Followup

My one and only son in his Blog "I Really Don't Like the Word Blog" touches on what heroes are all about. To me a hero is someone who goes out of their way to do something above and beyond. Here's a partial list of my heroes:

My first boss at the camper building shop -- he put up with me as long as his patience and pocketbook held out. I was slow and the concept of the pickup camper was coming to a close. He'll always have a place in my heart because he made the extra effort to give me a job (my first).

A small group of clients in South-Central and Southwest Kansas -- I had worked for them in the late 70s as part of a consulting group. They had told me whenever I was ready to come back in business on my own, they would be there for me. I started the business -- They were there for me.

The group of inner city Black people from inner city El Reno, OK. I got myself in a bind with a grain truck and combine trailer. They got me out of the bind. And changed my perception of racial interactions.

The people of New Jerusalem Church in Reno, NV. A hotel desk clerk sent me and a friend of mine there as a joke when we were asking about local churches. They turned out to be a really fun, sincere, loving Black people (who really knew how to transcend race and just live, love God, and treat everyone as family). The joke was on that hotel clerk. New Jerusalem Church gained a spot in my heart.

T/A Truck Stop in Limon, CO. Whomever management was at the time is my hero. I was planning to drive to Kansas for Christmas, but had become very ill the day before. On Christmas Day, I was well enough to drive, but I was lonely for my kids and late getting started. I stopped in Limon to take a break and filled my pickup with diesel fuel. They were handing out free Christmas dinners to all truckers, and I guess since I had a diesel pickup, I qualified as a trucker. I really enjoyed that meal, and I think the combination of good food, good hospitality, and the thought of them being nice helped heal me of my illness. That place and those people were my heroes that day. Since then, I have donated three times to their managers, instructing them to seek out those who look like they could use the boost of a free meal.

Jesus in my superhero. Even if he wasn't God, He lived and demonstrated a life and philosophy that is amazingly right-on but so super hard to follow as he intended. Once in a while, I connect with others in a meaningful way, but so much of the time I let fear, doubt, logic, and a few other distractions get in the way.

Well, tis late and I'll have to follow up on this thought on another night.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Sometimes Corporations are Beyond Belief

O.K. here's the scenario. The Garebear somehow ends up with a package of Tanimura & Antle celery from grocery store. Garebear doesn't know which store the produce came from, but that's not the point. Garebear really likes said celery (you wouldn't think one celery would be different from the rest, but it was, and the grower/producer is proud enough of it to proudly display their company on the label) and calls or emails Tanimura & Antle Fresh Foods, Inc., letting them know their celery was great. Tanimura & Antle, in appreciation, sends coupons "Good on any Tanimura & Antle brand fresh vegetable. Now, as you know, it is difficult to find who produces or markets most fresh produce -- it shows up at the store with no name/company I.D. attached. However, The Garebear comes to find that Sam's Club markets Tanimura & Antle celery, iceberg lettuce, and romaine hearts. The Garebear says to himself -- "I'll vist Mr. Sam's Club, coupons in hand, and I will buy some lettuce and romaine hearts" -- thinking he will use his coupons that were so kindly provided by Tanimura & Antle because The Garebear liked their stuff. Mr. Sam's Club, however, says "We don't take coupons here -- we only take them if they were issued in the form of a check". So, the Garebear gets no lettuce, and leaves Mr. Sam's Club with much animosity brewing. The Garebear was going to buy more Tanimura & Antle produce than he would have otherwise, but no, Mr. Sam had to be a butthole and not take the coupons. By the Garebear's calculations, this stupid refusal to take the coupons cost Tanimura & Antle money, it cost Mr. Sam money, it created animosity in Garebear toward Mr. Sam's, and may have cost Mr. Sam a membership renewal and possibly revenue in the future. That's a big loss to Mr. Sam's Club over $1.10 in coupons not accepted.

Is Mr. Sam shaking in his boots because The Garebear is pondering not renewing his membership? Probably not. But, in economic tough times, how many Garebears can Mr. Sam piss off and still maintain a good reputation? The Garebear believes Mr. Sam should care about his customers -- especially because we are members of his "Club". The Garebear believes Mr. Sam should care about Tanimura & Antle, because they choose to market their quality produce there. The Garebear will email Tanimura & Antle, letting them know how much Mr. Sam cares about them and their customers. The Garebear has no illusions that any of this will make any difference to Mr. Sam, so this blog will probably fall into what The Garebear's attorney calls "Scum of the Earth Letters" -- it doesn't have any effect other than to get it on paper. But, The Garebear is willing to bet that it will make some type of minuscle difference to Tanimura & Antle, becuase they care about their buyers and they are proud of their produce. The Garebear will contact them and see what happens. Meantime, The Garebear advises readers out there to buy Tanimura & Antle produce and consider going elsewhere when it comes time for the monthly +/- trip to spend lots of dollars at Mr. Sam's. When it comes down to it, The Garebear wishes places like Mr. Sam's, Wal-Mart, Home Depot would just go away so the locally owned stores can thrive because they care about their customers.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

One Thing That's Wrong With America

We, in America, have several problems.  We have an economic problem, part of which is that very few people seem to be saving and/or planning for retirement which, some feel, is part of the current economic crisis.  I say "why save?".  And here's why I say this.

When I was young, growing up in a conservative Christian home, we were at the height of the Cold War and bogged down in Vietnam.  There were thoughts that at any time, either the U.S. or Soviet Union could launch nuclear weapons and destroy the world.  And, according to some learned Christian scholars and writers of the time, most notably authors such as Hal Lindsey (The Late Great Planet Earth, Satan is Alive and Well on Planet Earth) and others, we were in the "end times" with the advent of the antichrist and the death throes of humanity, civilization, and earth as we knew it.  There were dire predictions of runaway population growth and, as I recall, predictions that by the late 1970s there would be widespread famine and potentially wars fought over food.  So, what's a right wing Christian conservative young person to think?

After much inward searching and theorizing, here's what I came up with relative to my own life and thought process.  I made a conscious decision to live life for today, because I felt that the world could end at any moment.  Saving for retirement would have been an effort in futility (still may be) because there was going to be no retirement and maybe even no old age -- maybe even no middle age.  I don't know how many of my peers either consciously or unconsciously made the same decisions.  I think it was a substantial number, which inadvertently led to part of the crisis we now have.

Sure, you can look back on things now and rationalize all that away.  But, as a young person, I thought all the dire predictions were at least plausible.  The good news is that I did live for today.  I have only minor regrets about not investing and saving for retirement.  At age 54 this becomes more of a thought, but if I had it to do all over again, I'd do the same because I always felt I chose wisely in my decision making.  With the economic collapse of 2008, many people lost their homes, retirement savings, pensions, and corporate stocks.  So far, I've lost only a few thousand (only on paper so far) in my small retirement portfolio.  So far, I've lost nothing of concern.  I didn't even lose the time that others invested in worry and concern for their future.  I'm not happy about our economic status, but I'm not sitting around lamenting the collapse of my finances either.

I do think there is some validity to my thoughts about why I chose not to save and invest earlier in my life.  The fact that Christ didn't return, Armageddon and/or nuclear holocaust did not occur, the predictions of imminent world-wide disaster did not happen, has not dampened my enthusiasm and love of God.  It did make me wonder about how all those seemingly reputable doomsday sayers could be so wrong.  And, now at age 54, where do I go from here?  I think there is a real possibility I'll be digging ditches in China to pay off our U.S. debt to China sometime before I die.  But our government and economic and industrial powerhouses selling us out to China is a whole new topic.  Let's go there in another blog.

Anyone out there in cyberspace have similar opinions and/or experiences?  I'd like to know if I'm remotely on track.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

KitchenAid Facts and Opinion (Update)

We have now owned our KitchenAid gas stove and microwave oven/vent hood for some time now. (See earlier blog.) Our opinion is that it is reliable, works well, has excellent programming built into it and we have used it for quite a number of exceptional meals. My only suggestion is this: get the black cooktop grates. We have the gray ones and with the heat and the splashing food, they eventually turn black on their own, while looking progressively worse as they change from gray to black. When they get all the way black things will be fine, meantime, it looks like we don't clean the stove very well. Otherwise, I'd buy the same units again. It's nice to have fairly expensive things that work.

Speaking of KitchenAid, we recently purchased a KitchenAid Professional coffee grinder. Another checkmark in the win column for KitchenAid. Killer brew every day and exceptional grind for home-brew espresso.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Wow! 54 Already

When last heard from, the Gare Bear had recently turned 53. Well, that brings up what happens when you turn 54. Time starts flying by so quickly that you can't imagine where all the time goes.

But I do know this. I now have one less year to make something interesting happen in my life. I've gotten into a routine of doing my crazy 12-hour shifts and just trying to recover in between while reviving one of my favorite hobbies -- that being handloading cartridges and shooting whenever I can. Unfortunately, it really cut into my bicycle riding which hasn't been good for the beltline. But, what I did do was procure my Colorado concealed handgun permit, which I consider to be a great privilege, especially being stationed in Boulder County, the self proclaimed capitol of the known liberal universe.

So, now, before I go harass elk this hunting season, I have a goal of getting back in shape. For those of you who have never done it, one of the hardest things I've ever had to do is pack out deer and elk from the back country, especially when the terrain is steep, rocky, muddy (that's the worst), or cold and snowy. It really makes one appreciate some of the hardships that native americans and early settlers had to deal with just to stay alive. Which leads me to another thought about early settlers -- when I look at much of the terrain of the west, I just marvel at the fact that those intrepid souls of yesteryear had the guts, toughness, and maybe stupidity to try to navigate the terrain by horse- or oxen-drawn wagons. You can't even negotiate much of it with modern 4-wheelers or off road vehicles. Some of the canyons and ravines can't even be traversed on foot. But the deer and elk do it like they are out for their morning jog. So, who's the higher species?

Interesting things going on, just for the record:
Obama vs. McCain.
Unprecedented financial crisis and debate over bailouts.
Interesting legal battles over Second Amendment now that the supreme court has rendered an opinion.
First Black presidential candidate. First female vice-presidential candidate. And it isn't Jesse Jackson or Hillary Clinton. You gotta love it.

Enuf for now.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Turning 53

Here's what happens when you turn 53. You realize you have to do something about that one ear getting older before you drive everyone nuts asking "What'd you say? You take a job that involves 12 hour shifts and you wonder why, on the day after your 3rd work day in a row, that you sleep in for several hours on the next day off. You realize that early retirement is only 6-1/2 years away and that you, along with many others in your baby boomer generation, will never be able to retire because your group is too big, has too much money, and somehow and some way all your money will be sucked right out of your wallet. You realize that you're feeling way too young for AARP but some of those membership benefits start to look good. You start to wonder when some major health disaster will befall you or your loved ones -- as you start to realize that others in your age group are either dropping like flies -- or as it begins to seem everyone has some type of cancer or something.

Here's what doesn't happen when you turn 53. You don't feel any older than when you were 18. You can still ride your bicycle 95% of what you could when you rode much more often 20 years ago. You don't feel any less horny. You may have more employment opportunities as employers realize that workers older than 40 or so have a better work ethic than many younger workers. So, the way I look at it, I think I still have a good 20 years to hope, dream, change, look for new opportunities. And I often pray that I can be a blessing to those around me.