Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Two Days Until Christmas




Two shopping days until Christmas.

With that said, I ask that everyone keep this in mind:  Though presents are nice to give and to receive, they are NOT the end all and be all of Christmas.  

Christmas isn't just about stuff.  Arguably, it's not necessarily about the birth of Christ either, (but that's something to ponder at a later date).  For now, let's concentrate on today, the second to last shopping day before Christmas.

This is the question I pose to anyone out there feeling the need to find that "perfect" Christmas gift:  why?

It's not a tangible object that makes Christmas Christmas.  There's nothing that can be sold in a store that will automatically make Christmas "perfect", nothing.

Though it's fun to receive, and give, gifts, the ones we can see and hold aren't always the best ones to give or get.  Sometimes it's a warm hug, or a phone call, even something as simple as a smile, that's worth more than anything money can buy from a store.

Also, when did we as people decide it was okay to make this particular day more about what we get and give one another, rather than about just being together with family and friends to celebrate however we've chosen to do so?

It's not that any of us needs to walk around being all "bah humbug" about Christmas, quite the contrary.  We should not only indulge, but overindulge, in the joy and wonderment of the day.  All I'm saying is, what we shouldn't do is fabricate that joy and wonder using gifts as the base to build our happiness on.

As usual, I'm rambling, and not sure I've quite gotten my point across.  I guess, over all I feel like maybe the Whos in Whoville had it right all along.


Monday, December 21, 2015

Bring On The Christmas Music!

Though Christmas comes but once a year, the plethora of Christmas songs that have been written over the years would lead one to believe that its a year-round event.

Whether the songs are from generations past, or new to the year at hand; whether they're traditional, or barely resemble a holiday tune, they're all out there, just waiting for someone to come along and have a listen.

Sometimes the old is meshed with the new, literally, and those old songs get a breath of life and return to the airwaves during the holidays.

A couple of great examples, (at least in my opinion), are "Baby It's Cold Outside", originally recorded by Dean Martin, and years later, re-released as a duet with country artist, Martina McBride; and Frank Sinatra's "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town", updated as a duet with Cyndi Lauper.

Rather than being re-recordings of these songs, Martina and Cyndi's vocals were actually recorded, then blended with Martin's and Sinatra's original recordings.


It seems that every year I hear a new song, or version of a song, that catches my attention, and becomes a new favorite.  And each time I think, "I've never heard that before, it must be brand new", only to find out it *isn't* brand new at all; it's usually been out a few years, and I'm just hearing it for the first time.

The 2015 holiday season is no different for this happening to me.  In the past month I've heard two remakes of songs that I hadn't heard before; and each has actually been around a few years.

The first song is the John Lennon classic, "Happy Christmas".  While I've heard several versions of the tune, none have quite lived up to the original.  Then I heard Maroon 5 do the song, and wow!  Still maybe not quite as good as Lennon, but still the only other version I've liked well enough to want to hear again and again.

The second song is "Mele Kalikimaka", written by Robert Alex Anderson in 1949.

While there have been many versions of this song over the decades, my current favorite is by country artist, Jake Owen. Like with Maroon 5, Jake's rendition has been around for a while, and I'm just now hearing it.

Funny thing too, as a fan, I usually can recognize Jake's voice, but I didn't, and was surprised to hear the DJ on the radio say it was him.

With only a few more days until Christmas, I'm not sure I'll hear anything new  this season.  I look forward already to next year though, to see what treasures will be unearthed for my listening pleasure.



Thursday, December 3, 2015

Skeptical Believer

Anyone who knows me knows I trust very little in life, and that I'm highly skeptical of anything that sounds too good to be true.

Unless I've seen proof first hand that something is legitimate, I'm not going to believe it's real, or that I can trust it to live up to it's hype, or my expectations of the product.

The price of any item under my scrutiny doesn't matter, if anything it feeds my skepticism.  If the price is fairly inexpensive, my mind figures the product won't be that great, because you'll get what you pay for.  Yet, if an item is fairly high priced, my thought is that the product will probably fall short of actually being worth the cost.

Unfair?  Yes, I would say I can be that way. I do *try* to give the benefit of the doubt to most things, but that doesn't always work.

One of my most recent moments of skepticism has to do with cannabidiol, (CBD), creams and ointments.

There are several brands of CBD products available, and are touted as being able to relieve all types of pain, from aching joints, to fibromyalgia, and everything in between.

In addition to doubting if these products can really do what they say, most have what seems to be  hefty price tags that go along with them. Then along came Lola's Rapid Relief.

I've known the creator of Lola's Rapid Relief, Lola Montgomery, for awhile, from her time working at 98.7 The Bull, (KUPL while she was there).



Lola now does radio in Bend, Oregon, and along with her boyfriend, Sean, has just started making and selling Lola's Rapid Relief.

As her website, (www.lolasrapidrelief.com), states, she wanted to make a cream that would help her family and friends with daily aches and pains. The idea is to get people off of pain medications, be pain free, and enjoy a better quality of life. It also states that the cream is made by hand and with love.

For those who don't know Lola, that description fits her completely.  She's a very kind, compassionate woman, who wants the best for herself and those around her.

With that said, you probably think this was my breakthrough on being more trusting about a product; not the case.

Don't get me wrong, I know in my heart that Lola would never say, do, or sell anything she didn't wholeheartedly believe in; it's not how she is.  My hang up, for lack of a better word at the moment, was more about not trusting that the product would be as good as it seemed.  I definitely was more curious about this type of cream, now that someone I knew was making and selling it; just not totally sold on how good it was.  I wondered if this type of cream could help my elderly parents with their daily pain, but still wasn't sure I could afford to pay the asking price of a 2 oz. bottle.

Then something great happened, that allowed me to satisfy my curiosity; Lola announced on her Facebook page, that anyone who wanted a free sample of Lola's Rapid Relief, could private message her with their address, and she'd send one out to them.

Free?  Free is always good in my opinion, so I messaged Lola immediately, explaining about my parents, and how I'd like a sample so they could try it.

Got the sample almost the next day, and couldn't wait to have my parents try it.  In the meantime, though, I was having pain in my knees, and decided to try a bit of the cream on myself.

Truthfully, I didn't expect it to work, even though it was from Lola, I just still didn't believe anything could be as good as this cream seemed to be. Boy was I wrong!

Almost as soon as I put a very thin coating on my left knee, the pain subsided to almost nothing. We're talking a coating so thin, it was barely there, and the pain was gone.  As an extra added bonus, where most creams and ointments leave a greasy feeling on your skin, Lola's Rapid Relief didn't. Almost as quickly as I applied it to my skin, it was absorbed, leaving no residue behind.  A second bonus was that, even after taking a shower, the cream had absorbed into my skin enough, that it took a couple of days before I felt any real pain in my knees.

I was so excited after first applying Lola's Rapid Relief, that I immediately posted to Lola's Facebook page, (so everyone could read about my results), letting her know how well her pain relief cream had worked for me.  I also said that I still had to have my parents try it, and would let Lola know the results from them as well.

Unfortunately, the cream didn't work for my parents.  I was devastated, especially when I had to let Lola know the news.  Ever the optimist she is, Lola was okay with the news, and assured me it was okay; that she was happy that it had worked for me at least.  I did see posts on Lola's Facebook page, ranging from how the cream worked for some people almost immediately, to those who, like my parents, saw no difference in their pain.

And this is why I've written this blog post.  While I'm still a skeptic about most things, I felt I needed to share my story, and let others know, while it may not work for everyone, Lola's Rapid Relief did work for me; enough so that it turned this skeptic into a believer of the product.

Anyone interested in learning more about Lola's Rapid Relief, or buying a jar, can check it out here:
Lola's Rapid Relief website:  http://lolasrapidrelief.com/

At this time, samples are no longer available.

I hope anyone who tries this has as excellent results as I did.










Saturday, November 28, 2015

It's That Crazy Christmas Time of Year

Well, it's that time of year again; Thanksgiving has passed and it's the Christmas season, officially.

I say "officially", because we all know that the Christmas "season" comes around earlier and earlier every year; usually once Halloween is over. This year though, not only did the Christmas season start at the beginning of November, so did all the controversy over the holiday.

By now, I doubt there are many people who haven't heard about the 2015  red Starbuck's cups.
Every year during the Christmas season, Starbucks serves their hot beverages in special holiday cups.  In the past, the cups have featured ornaments, snowmen, etc. for the holidays.

This year however, the company decided to go with a plain red cup.  The next thing you know, there's a media frenzy about how Starbucks is against Christmas, and Jesus, you name it.

What a lot of people don't know is, this probably wouldn't have been such a big deal, had it not been for one man,  Josh, Feurstein. Feurstein is a self proclaimed disciple of Jesus, and he's the person who declared that Starbucks was anti-Christmas.

Funny thing is, when I saw the red cup, *my* first thought was, "ah, more corporate greed; less printing on the cups saves money for Starbucks, and makes them more profits".

Back to what was happening in the public eye though.  People everywhere were buying into the idea that Starbucks was anti-Christmas. There were those who boycotted the franchise because of the cups, as well as those who thought it was okay that the company took a somewhat "neutral" approach to the season.

In between all the yays and nays were those, (myself included), who just didn't care one way or the other about the color and design, or the lack of one.  It's a cup, you use it, it gets thrown away.
 
To me, that was the bigger concern. Even with recycling and all, it's still a cup that gets tossed after one use.  And though some are recycled, most just get thrown into trash cans at home or work, or on a street corner, to be added to landfills.

 Others took a humorous approach to the cup controversy.  Weird Al posted a pic of a Starbucks cup in a sleeve with a sticker added, suggesting the paganism of Starbucks.

 To me, it was funny, because, though Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, it *is* attached to a pagan holiday.  That's a whole other story though, so we'll skip that for now.

 One of the DJ's, Chunky, from "Chunky Mckinzie & Jake" on The Bull in Portland, Oregon made a great point about the Starbucks cup situation.

Chunky is Jewish, and posed the question of why doesn't Starbucks have blue cups for Hanukkah?  He was being lighthearted about the whole thing of course, but again, in my opinion, he did make a great point about how people aren't getting all up in arms about not having Hanukkah cups and other items in honor of their holiday; why are Christians making such a big deal over a cup?

By now you're probably wondering why I've brought all this up again, since it seems to have finally calmed down and gone away.  Truth is, I wouldn't have brought it up at all, except it kind of helps set things up for why I'm writing this post now.

It seems now that there's no longer a huge issue about Starbucks red cups, the focus has turned to Reese's Peanut Butter Cups; specifically their tree shaped offering for the holidays.

Yes, you read that last paragraph correctly.  People are all bent out of shape because it seems this year's Reese's peanut butter trees are more blobs than trees.


Okay, I get it, people buy these specifically because they're tree shaped, for the holidays.  But really, is someone's entire holiday going to be ruined because a piece of candy isn't tree shaped?

My warped sense of humor kicked in when I saw this latest uproar in the media.  I looked at the pic of the tree blob and thought, "hmmm...Reese's Easter Egg candy must not have sold well, they're repackaging them for Christmas".  It makes sense to me anyway:  Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Christ, and Easter is to celebrate his rising; the two holidays are connected in that way at least.

As with the Starbucks cups though, I really don't care about this latest issue with Reese's Peanut Butter Trees.  It's a peanut butter cup that's been shaped into a tree.  The two items taste the same, the candy company just makes an extra profit by charging more for the special shape.

 It's going to be fun to sit back and watch though, to see if this latest controversy will have the longevity the Starbucks one had. 







Thursday, November 26, 2015

It's Been Awhile

Wow!

I had no idea until just a couple days ago that it's been a YEAR since I've posted anything to this blog!  Not cool!  I've decided it's time to fire up the keyboard and start posting again, hopefully on a more regular basis, like in the past.

With that said, I'll start right now with where I left off last year, wishing everyone and their family and friends a very Happy Thanksgiving!


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Sale Away on Gray Thursday

I'll be the first to admit, I love a great sale as much as the next person. Who doesn't love getting something they want, or need, at a lower price than what they'd normally pay?

Granted, stores are still making a profit, even at sale prices, but hey, *I'm* paying less than retail, so it's a good feeling knowing that.

No matter the type of store, or where it's located, all of them have sales on a regular basis, whether it's daily, weekly, or monthly; there's always someone offering something for less than retail price.

Then there are the special sales, in addition to the regular ones.  The special ones usually revolve around holidays, or special events.  President's Day, Memorial Day, the Super Bowl, etc.; all are cause for retailers to have blowout prices on items consumers are wanting, or needing.


One of the biggest special sale days is the Friday after Thanksgiving, otherwise known as "Black Friday".

Ah yes, "Black Friday", the day people are up before the sun, and out standing in endless lines for a chance at getting that great bargain.  When did all this craziness become the norm?

Actually, upon research, "Black Friday" was a term used in Philadelphia in the early sixties to describe the throngs of people out and about the day after Thanksgiving.  By 1975, the term had been adopted across the country, and adapted to describe shoppers.

For nearly three decades stores catered to shoppers on this infamous Friday, opening their stores as early as 6:00 am, allowing those early birds an opportunity at big savings.  Then after a few years, the times got earlier.  Some stores began opening at 5 am, in hopes of garnering more customers eager to start their holiday shopping.

The beginning of a new century though, brought a new tradition: stores not opening early on Friday morning, but instead, late on Thanksgiving evening.  At first stores, like Wal-Mart, and Best Buy, advertised they'd be opening at 10 pm Thanksgiving for "Black Friday" savings.

At the time, I didn't see a problem with this.  Yes, there were employees that probably weren't happy about having to work on a holiday, I understand that.  For the most part though, the "traditions" of Thanksgiving usually wrap up in the early evening.  Friends and family have spent time together, then gone their separate ways, so why not go stand in a line for a store to open at 10 pm, especially if there's something you want, at a great price?

More recently however, things have been getting out of hand.  No longer are shoppers getting in the "holiday spirit".  Instead, they're trying to one up other shoppers to get what they want.  Every year there are stories from across the nation of fights, shootings, stabbings, you name it, all because people just have to have something others want also.  This makes one wonder if it really is worth standing in line for any kind of a deal.  After all, is it really worth the possibility of getting hurt, or possibly even killed, just for a bargain?

One would also think that retailers would be concerned about these incidences, and want to curtail them if possible.  Yet, every year, the retailers seem to start their sales just that much earlier than the year before.  Anymore, it's really not a "Black Friday" sale, as much as it's become a "Gray Thursday" sale.

This year, there are stores that are actually opening early on Thanksgiving morning, then again Thanksgiving evening. Instead of opening at 5 am on Friday, some stores will be opening at 5pm Thursday evening, to get a jump on the holiday rush.

As I stated earlier, I understand that there are those who don't celebrate the holidays, so for them, it's nice to have stores open, especially if they're offering exceptional savings.  Really though, are retailers actually gaining that much more by opening so early?  If they're so concerned about sales, why don't they just stay open their normal hours, and still offer the great savings?

Several stores have bypassed the actual Black Friday sale completely, opting instead to offer sales for a week, or more, before Thanksgiving. I've heard commercials describing "Blue Friday", "White Wednesday", and other names, that are really just different ways to get around having a sale for only one day.

You've probably noticed that I'm not a big fan of all these crazy hours and days that are being set for after, (and nowadays before), Thanksgiving sales; it's true.  While the bargains may be good, the whole idea of Black Friday has become so diluted, and so competitive, for me at least, it just isn't fun anymore. What I like even less however are the policies some stores have adopted in conjunction with their Black Friday sales.

We've all seen signs at stores stating, "no loitering", "no parking", etc.; as an attempt to keep people from just hanging out at the store and not buying anything.  Yet, there are retailers, most notably Best Buy, who, despite not allowing this behavior normally, have no problem with letting people camp out in front of their stores, sometimes as early as before Halloween, just for their Black Friday sale.  Why?!

Not only does that seem very extreme, it questions whether these people actually have lives. One man in Florida, his wife, and a friend are currently camped out at a Best Buy, and have been for at least a couple weeks now.  They work, so they've been taking turns camping out at the Best Buy, so they can go to their jobs.

I think what bothers me the most about this however, is the double standard tone this sets.  Obviously if someone is just hanging around a store, or if someone is homeless, and tries to camp out even in the parking lot, they're told it's not allowed, and there's signs posted to prove it.  But someone does the same thing, because they want to spend money at the store, it's okay for them to camp out for days and days.  In other words, spend money, you can stay, don't, you can't be there.

Yes, as much as I like great sales and bargains, I have my limits. It seems weird to say that commercialism is getting even more commercialized, but it's true.  Black Friday is a great example of this.  What started as a one day event, has been blown into something that's dragged out for days on end, before and after Thanksgiving.  In some cases it seems Black Friday has become more of an anticipated "holiday" than Thanksgiving itself.

Just my opinion, but it would be nice to just get back to the basics of Black Friday.  It happens on the Friday after Thanksgiving, and only that day.  If retailers want to get crazy with their sales, why not open your doors from midnight that Friday, to 11:59 pm that same day?  And with today's technology, these same retailers can do the same thing on the internet, for those who can't, or don't want to actually go to a store.  Seems logical to me, shoppers still get great deals, and retailers are still making huge revenues.

Again, just my take on this subject.  I'll end this post with a wish for a Happy Thanksgiving to all; as well as safety for all those braving the "Gray Thursday", "Black Friday", mayhem that's sure to happen somewhere.











Friday, October 31, 2014

People Loving Prizefighters

While country has been a staple of the music industry for eons, the 90's saw the genre take a breath of fresh air with the emergence of Garth Brooks.

Brooks swept on to the scene with his raucously infectious brand of country that had listeners on their feet from the first note of each song.

For a decade, it seemed Brooks could do no wrong, (well, except for his venture into pop as "Chris Gaines"), releasing hit after hit; selling out shows everywhere, and smashing all sorts of records as he went.

Even many who previously had a dislike of country music liked what Garth Brooks was offering to listeners.

Then, in 2000, Brooks announced he was retiring; at least until his youngest daughter was 18. On a side note, it was also the year his 14 year marriage to his wife, Sandy, ended.

Though he'd retired, in 2005 Brooks released a new song, "Good Ride Cowboy".  He wrote the song in honor of one of his idols, bareback rider/singer Chris Ledoux, who had died that year.

A few years later, Garth came out of retirement again, to play a series of intimate, acoustic concerts in Las Vegas, and also released music, (old and new), exclusively through Wal-Mart stores. Regardless of the ventures during this time, Garth's fans proved they hadn't left the singer behind; they were there, waiting for anything new Brooks had to offer.  Even in "retirement", Brooks was still exceeding sales and concert attendance records everywhere.

Now, in 2014, Brooks has officially announced he's coming out of retirement.  He's released a list of tour dates, as well as a new single, "People Loving People".


During Brooks' retirement/divorce period, he got together with long time friend and fellow country singer, Trisha Yearwood.

The two had been friends for many years during their time in Nashville, but had never been an actual couple until after each had been previously married.  Yearwood's first marriage had been to Robert Reynolds, a member of the Mavericks.

During the 90's Yearwood racked up an impressive string of hits of her own, including, "Walk Away Joe", "XX's & OO's", and "She's in Love With the Boy", as well as other tunes.

By the time Trisha and Garth became a couple, Yearwood's musical career had slowed some, and the singer
began branching out in new directions.

She co-wrote a cookbook of down home recipes and had her her own cooking show on the Food Network, "Trisha's Southern Kitchen".

Like Garth, it seemed, Yearwood had "retired" her singing career for one sharing home cooked food with fans.

This year though, like Garth Brooks, Trisha has released new music to country radio.

Yearwood's latest offering, "Prizefighter", features Kelly Clarkson, and proves that, though Yearwood may not have been putting out new music, she hasn't lost any of the talent or energy she was known for with previous hits.


Though it's been quite awhile since either Garth or Trisha has had new music on the radio, it seems that each has hit the jackpot again with their new tunes. Now it's just a matter of who reaches the highest peak on the country radio charts.  Either way, listeners will definitely be the winners.