Mary Beth Writes

10/31/2023

Happy Halloween! I think because this is mostly a kid’s holiday, it tends to evoke a lot of sweet and funny memories from our childhoods and then of our kids.

Remember when we (who are now antique kids) collected candy in paper grocery bags that we had decorated with crayons? And then it would rain and one would have to carry the bag in both arms and run between houses while drenched and noisy and not even caring?

Obviously I remember that.

Or when one of your kids (you know which one) would eat ALL their chocolate that first night and then were awake on a caffeine high for hours and still rather sick the next day but you made them go to school anyways? Mostly because you had also eaten an ungodly number of mini-candy bars and weren’t feeling that great, either.

I’ve read that Halloween candy is eaten at a much higher rate than candy bought for Valentines Day.

I believe it.

Halloween is a good day to talk about what’s scary and what’s not so let’s dive into this surprising takeaway from two articles I read recently. I’ve listed their URLs at the bottom of this post.

Big box stores are not making as much money as they think they ought to be earning. They say their profits are down because retail theft is up so dramatically. This fits in with our perceptions and fears when we see those video clips of ransacking gangs that break the windows and steal a huge amount of stuff very quickly. They have guns and sticks and they sometimes wear terrifying masks. (Ransack is a word straight from actual Viking raids. It isn’t like mayhem is a new idea.)

Corporations are using this perception to rationalize using more security cameras, to cut back and underpay staff, and to move to self-serve and self-checkout. When was the last time you were in a big store looking for a particular item and couldn’t find it and then couldn’t find a staff person to help you? Oh, this has happened to you, too?

What these articles say is that it has been complicated to know what to stock in retail stories since the pandemic. I bet it is. We have all changed the way we shop.

At the same time, stock owners, CEOs, and corporate board members are not going to ride this out without their customary huge paychecks and dividends. So, if they can convince us and law makers that this is about theft, they can get stronger laws, bigger penalties, and they can sell us the myth that less staff is the only possible future.

Curiously, Lowe’s does not have the same amount of theft drama as other stories. Their spokesperson explains they have continued to hire workers, train them well, and are now one of the highest paid employers in the big box business.

These are scary times. There absolutely are too many situations of ransacking and violence. But maybe the solution isn’t to punish more and harder, maybe we should first ask and expect a better analysis of what’s really going on. It’s so easy to be scared and gloomy. It’s smart to look at where the money is coming from and where it’s going.

Same with the current debacle of how many billions in military hardware we are going to give to Israel and Ukraine. Many question why should we be sending “our” money to those places? But consider that the weapons we send are generally manufactured in the US. Consider how many Americans are currently working in the companies that make all that military equipment.

I’m never in favor of war. I am in favor of following the money.

Happy Halloween some more. If you are still looking for a terrifying costume, consider being a billionaire with political connections.

 

Crime spree? Retailers are actually overstating the extent of theft, report says | CNN Business

https://www.businessinsider.com/lowes-ceo-workers-are-greatest-deterrent-for-retail-theft-2023-9?op=1

 

 

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"It's Good for You" Pizza

The Best Pizza Ever is in Madison 

Click here for their info:   “It’s Good For You”   

Last weekend, while out of town, we decided to stop for a pizza at the place where our son works one night per week. If you know my kid, you know he was manager of an artisanal pizza place for years. He doesn’t miss managing an entire restaurant. Apparently, he DOES miss making spectacular pies and then baking them at temps high enough to burn the hair off his arms.

Frugality Hacks or how I saved $64,000,000, so far.

I read the ‘frugal things I did’ letters in other people’s huge and interesting frugality blogs. I figured I could list some of the ways I saved some money this week (this life). I’m pleased to say I saved about 64 Million.

Quarantine Diary #645 - Granola

Two recent tweets : Someone named Kate Harding tweeted; “What haunts me is that I am not just smart enough for so many people to be this much stupider than me.”

And from Di, Obstinate Hoper; “I’m starting to think of pandemic caution like labor: buckle down during peaks, relax a little between them. Hang in there, folks. It’s a damn long labor.”

Frugal? Road Trip to New Mexico

If our finances were stretched we wouldn’t have gone to New Mexico. We are doing fine despite the advice that says one ought to retire with a million dollars in the bank. Imagine that.

1. We and, at this point, about half the nation, have had our Covid vaccines so we felt safe and ready to see something new. However, we traveled to a place where they had worked WITH the effort to fight this pandemic. This limited our choices and is the #1 reason we didn’t go to the Badlands. How we spend $ is our power.

The Mindful Chickens are Wordy Today

Other people call them “frugal things I did lately”. I call them Mindful Chickens because they are about:

  • Being Cheap (cheap, cheep).
  • Being thoughtful about how choices affect our community and our earth.
  • Paying attention to the constant tumble of dollars and choices.

This is my collection of wise choices and dastardly schemes from the last two months.

ONE: Our electric toothbrush/water pick would no longer hold a charge but a new one costs more than $100. Len took it to the battery store where they replaced it for $15.

Mindful Chickens - Plastic & Hunger 12/20/2020

I went for a walk on Wednesday and saw this mitten on a sidewalk. When I was at the same spot on Friday, it was still there, so I brought it home because it is a hand-knitted kid mitten, ya know? Any knitters out there interested in making it a mate, so that we could give it to a kid in my community or your? It's 7" from top to ribbed bottom. 

...

The point of “Mindful Chickens” is to spend less money while being mindful of the environment and our human values. We can try, right?

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