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Mandate of Growth

May 13, 2014

“Only in growth, reform and change, paradoxically enough, is true security to be found.”

Anne Morrow Lindbergh

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Wish I’d seen this earlier

February 23, 2014

…but at least I’ve seen it now.  I was skimming The Huffington Post this morning and saw a story about a rock band performing an unconventional version of “The Star Spangled Banner.” Okay, maybe it wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, so to speak. But I give the band kudos for originality.

Then I scrolled down to the bottom of the article where there was a YouTube link to a version of our national anthem performed by Marvin Gaye at a 1983 basketball game.    Wow.    It was the sexiest national anthem I’ve ever heard…and the crowd even found itself clapping along with the groove that Gaye had laid down in that basketball arena.

Truly amazing! I think it’s well worth three minutes of your time!

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Guess I know when I’m not welcome…

February 18, 2014

This blog only makes sense if I let you know that I’m a member of Phi Beta Kappa. So it’s out. I bring this up because I just learned that I am not welcome in a certain group. That group is called Kappa Beta Phi. It is comprised of Wall Street elites who hold annual meetings to mock Phi Beta Kappa, its members, the symbols on the PBK gold key and the PBK motto: “Love of learning the guide of life.”

Instead, the motto of this group is: Dum vivamus edimus et biberimus.” Evidently, this is Latin for:  “While we live, we eat and drink.”

If you have the stomach for it, I suggest you read the article and listen to the audio provided by reporter Kevin Roose in New York Magazine, who donned a tux and dove undercover to learn more about this group of Wall Street elites. The KBP mocks other groups as well, but I’ll leave that for others to discuss.

The speaker on the audio explains that the KBP motto means that its members eat and drink regardless of a bull market or a bear market.

That’s great for them. But what about their fellow Americans who aren’t eating and drinking right now, thanks in part to economic policies and political cost-cutting decisions that affect unemployment insurance and food stamps?

When I think about that, all I can say is that I’m glad I’m not welcome at KBP.

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“….or has time rewritten every line?”

February 5, 2014

I thought of this lyric snippet after reading a story in the Detroit Free Press. The story was titled, “Your brain often edits that trip down memory lane.” Audience members who saw Twelve Angry Men either on stage or on the silver screen might remember how the seemingly airtight memory of a key eyewitness fell apart under jury room scrutiny.

But the Free Press article talks about our capacity to alter our own memories.

“A memory isn’t a static thing,” said Joel Voss, a researcher at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. “Every time you retrieve it, you have the ability to modify it.”

This reminds me of videos I’ve seen where people use a tapping technique to help them reframe a troubling memory. Under the guidance of a therapist, people quickly learn a way to take the emotional edge off of a troubling memory. Some therapists also use video game simulation techniques to help soldiers with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.  In the virtual world, under the watchful eye of a therapist, a soldier can relive a disturbing war experience…and then learn to reframe it.  These techniques seem to take advantage of the research findings mentioned in the Free Press. We’re not robots…memory in, memory out. We can learn to reinterpret or reframe our memories based on new knowledge.

To me, that’s a very reassuring thought.

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Seeing what’s important in life

December 13, 2013

How would you feel if you lost your entire retirement fund to convicted pyramid schemer Bernie Madoff?

Bitter? That’s understandable. Worried? Yeah, I’d understand that, too. But what if someone said the experience was a blessing in disguise?

Meet attorney Helen Davis Chaitman. In The Huffington Post, the headline describes Ms. Chaitman as a “victim” of Bernie Madoff, but hearing her talk about the experience, she acts not like a victim…but a victor.

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Goodwill gesture erases the ‘blues’

September 21, 2013

I’ll be happy to walk once again through the door of my local Meijer store.

Why?  Because they cared about my customer goodwill.

Some readers may recall recently reading about a pricing gripe I’d had with Meijer involving a blue rolling Igloo-brand cooler.  I won’t repeat the whole story. But the incident spurred me to contact the Michigan Attorney General’s office because the issue involved the Michigan Scanner Law.

The AG’s office contacted the Legal Department at Meijer in Grand Rapids.  Soon a string of emails ensued, followed by a call from a manager at my local Meijer store, who apologized for the mix-up and offered to send me the blue rolling Igloo cooler as a goodwill gesture.

I gratefully accepted the offer. Arrangements were made, and I received the cooler yesterday.

In the grand scheme of things, this whole incident may seem small. I know some people believe we’re not supposed to sweat the small stuff, and from their point of view, everything is small stuff.

I disagree. Don’t get me wrong. I understand the general idea that some things truly are trivial. But I never liked the idea of dismissing everything as “small” and, therefore, somehow unworthy of our energy. After all, decimal points aren’t small to an accountant. Millimeters aren’t small to a brain surgeon.

That’s why I never liked the idea that everything is small stuff. Sometimes, small stuff is important stuff…especially when it can turn a frown into a smile.

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A ’1984′ moment: ‘Blue’ Really Means ‘Red’

August 27, 2013

It will be a while before I voluntarily shop at a Meijer store again.

If you’re wondering why, it’s because Meijer told me that ‘blue’ really means ‘red’…and because Meijer refused to give me the price difference and bonus I believe I was entitled to under Michigan’s New Scanner Law.

Here’s my report…the same narrative I provided to the State of Michigan when I filed a complaint about this incident.

“I went to the Meijer store in Royal Oak and saw a blue rolling Igloo cooler that I wanted to purchase. There was no price on the item, but the shelf above the cooler said “IGLOO 28 QT ROLLER COOLER BLUE 31.49″. There was also an Igloo red non-rolling cooler on the shelf above. I selected the blue rolling cooler and went to the self-check out lane. A clerk helped me to scan the price (because the item was bulky), and it showed up as $39.99. I told the clerk there that the price was higher than I expected, but he shrugged. So I paid for the cooler, then checked the shelf again where I found the blue rolling cooler. It did say “31.49″ as the price, so I went to the customer service area and asked for a refund of the price difference and the $5 bonus because of the error. The clerk behind the desk left to look at the shelf label, and she returned a few minutes later with a red non-rolling Igloo cooler. She said the $31.49 price applied to that cooler. I said that cooler wasn’t blue and wasn’t rolling. She countered by saying that the code number was different and the quantity was different. I told her I couldn’t determine quantity size by sight. I was going by the description: Igloo, blue, rolling. She refused to refund me the difference or the bonus. I asked, and did receive, a full refund. However, I told her I would be filing a complaint with the State of Michigan. By the way, I do have  a cell phone picture of the shelf label.”

Here’s that cell phone picture of the shelf label, snapped minutes after the incident, and a copy of my receipt. If you saw a blue rolling Igloo cooler sitting under a label that said blue rolling Igloo cooler, why would you bother to check the scanner?

Now I wonder: Does Meijer expect me to question every price I see on a shelf label?  And will Meijer do anything to bring me back into their store?

I know mistakes happen. I get it. But whatever happens, please don’t try to tell me that ‘blue’ really means ‘red.’

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