Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

Hello on this Christmas Eve good people.

It is my hope that each of you have a happy Christmas and a safe, healthy and rewarding New year.

This time of year is always a mixture of sadness and gladness for me. I am glad because of the season, and with thoughts of how Christmas seems to make a lot of people happy, and sadness because I well remember the happy times of Christmas' past in our home.

I remember how our three children used to gather at the top of the stairs and call down down and ask if Santa Claus had been here yet. My wife and I, our brains fogged and our eyes bleary, due to staying up late, wrapping up gifts and giving Santa a hand in laying out all the presents under the tree, would say "yes he has been here", and the kids would come thundering down the stairs and initiate a blizzard of hastily torn-off Christmas wrappings, while my wife and I watched and smiled, Happy that we could give to our kids, and I'm a bit sad knowing those days won't come round again,

But I remember with happiness our Christmas Tree. Each year we would make a special day of the day when we went to get the tree. Some years my wife and I would go out and find a tree, and some years I would go by myself, so my wife could stay home and prepare bunches of Christmas goodies.

Starting when our oldest son was about four years old, and we were living in Florida, where my work had taken us, and Christmas Trees in the wild were pretty scarce, as the proper type of tree and its shape were seemingly not indigineous to Florida, My son and I went on an "expedition" in a small patch of partially cleared ground near the Cottage where we lived and brought home a somewhat ungainly looking slash pine tree. I wasn't sure about it, but was ever optimistic that as usual my wife and I could make it beautiful, and Sure Enough! when we got this tree trimmed it was just beautiful.

In later years my daughter also went with us on our search for a tree, and she just loved the area where we would select and cut our tree each year. Soon our youngest son would accompany us on our tree expedition. We would drive several miles to a small Christmas Tree farm, and spent a few enjoyable hours in picking out just the perfect tree. When parking near the Tree Farm, it was necessary to walk through a dense grove of mature Pine trees, forty or fifty feet tall. I can still remember how beautifully silent it was in that grove, with its soft carpet of decades of pine needles on the ground. My Daughter would always call this area "The Cathedral", and the fields where we cut our tree , the "Secret Garden" and we would invariable find just the right tree, only to find when we got it home, it was about three or four feet taller than our eleven-foot ceilings, and would have to do some tree surgery on it to make it fit. But it was worth the time and effort, for when the tree was in place and decorated, it would invariably be gloriously beautiful, and a subject of awe for all who saw it. This, together with literally hundreds of other memories fill my mind this time of year.

Yes, christmas is a time of mixed feelings for me, yet I wouldn't take a Million Dollars for any one of over a half-centuries of Memories of Christmas.

So, Happy Christmas to each and every one out there, and may all your Christmas dreams and memories be Happy Ones.

The Old Professor

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

How to go broke without really trying

Good Afternoon:

I'll tell you a short tale if I may.
My wife and I moved our family to the small town where we live about 43 years ago.

It wasn't long after we moved here that I needed to go to a lumber yard for something, I forget what. Anyway, the lumber company/hardware store I went to was a flourishing business, with quite a number of employees and lots of customers. One had to wait in line to be waited on.

I enjoyed doing business with this company for quite a number of years, until 15 or 20 years or so ago, when the owner's daughter returned to town from college with a shiny new husband.

The owner of this business then decided that he could at long last retire, and turned the operation of the business he had built up over many years over to his son-in-law.
Some where around this same time, Lowes and Home Depot opened stores in a town across the river from our town, about 15 or so miles away, and predictably, business at local lumber yards and hardware stores began to flag somewhat.

Instead of trying to maintain their business by continuing their fine service and reasonably, if not as cheaply priced, lumber and hardware items and maintain, after a short period of adjustment, the bulk of their clients, the son-in-law decided to make up for the reduction in business by raising the prices on their stock.

This , of course, had the predictable effect of costing the business even more customers, as the amount they could save by driving across the river and shopping with one of the new mega-stores was now even greater, well worth the time and gas necessary to make the trip.

The son-in-law responded by raising the prices even more, and laying off most of his employees, while he was busy hunting, fishing and playing.

I've only been in this business a limited amount of times in the last few years, as I've not had the need, but on one memorable occasion, I needed a gallon of outside white paint, and didn't figure it would pay me to go over the river to save three or four bucks. I found a gallon of paint at the store O.K. I found a can with about a quarter of an inch of dust on the top and discovered when I took it to the counter to pay for it, that the price for this ordinary paint was now close to Forty dollars, instead of the Ten or Twelve dollars it had formerly been. Obviously I put the paint back on the shelf and drove to the mega store.
As I write this, the local, once flourishing store is just about out of business, the son-in-law has run the business into the ground.
The founder and original owner of the business died a few months ago, and I anticipate that the business will close in the near future.

I tell this story as an illustration of how to kill a business, a company, or an organization, or even a Governmental entity.

I very much fear this is what will soon be happening to this beloved country of ours.
By trying to raise taxes on one segment of the population to make up for the taxes no longer paid by another segment of our population, as their jobs are now gone, the United States is doing exactly what the lumber yard did. and why?, well for the same reason. The "New Owner" doesn't know what he is doing, due to a lack of experience.

Now the local lumber yard owner, when asked why his business is off so much has said it was because of the way the founder and his employee's ran the business.....for over 50 years!!!!! I think you'll agree that this is a classic "CYA" by someone who just flat doesn't know what he is doing.

As a single example, look just to the U.S. Postal Service. This week they announced that it would now take more than twice as long to deliver a first-class letter AND would also cost more, as the price is going up on first-class stamps. I guess the P.O. officials are saying," well since we are doing less, we ought to charge more for it to make up for the loss of business due to higher prices and slower service. that ought to do it".

Et Tu, D.C.?