Sunday, May 13, 2007

Marketing Madness

Reveille courtesy of the state employees. A cold, clear blue morning. I went right over to the depot for a coffee. I recognized the baked goods on display from yesterday - definitely less appealing after another day of aging. Took my coffee and found a sheltered bench outside in the park and basked in the sun while a blasting north wind wrapped around my enclosure.

A beautiful, healing, "present". Went over to nearby "Vincent’s" pharmacy, purchased a post card and returned to the park bench. Wrote a note to Stefano and Giancarlo, Santa Rosa coffee shop and motorcycling buddies. They made me promise to send a postcard from Vermont.

Returning to the house, I "cranked" the heater up to 60. (Environmentalist that he is, Jeff keeps it around 56.) Read another 30 or so posts in the Fellowship of Friends discussion, then continued work on blog notes.

Once Jeff joined the walking dead, we drove over to the new "Shaw’s" supermarket for a specific bread that he likes. Spent an hour (no exaggeration) wandering nearly all the aisles, fascinated by so many of the products. (Unfortunately, the selection at the long-established local Waterbury market pales in comparison to that of "Shaw's".) In such abundance, there is certainly something quite exciting and comforting. I suspect a well-stocked supermarket releases endorphins!

Still, the marketing stuff drives me crazy. New packaging ideas often carry the concept of waste (and resulting social and environmental impacts) to a new (and almost always, higher) level. A tiny example: "Coffee Mate" (that processed crap you use to "whiten" coffee,) has "evolved" a sleek new plastic container that consumes "x% more!" plastic. And now the formerly-powdered product is marketed as a liquid and displayed in the refrigerated sections! If these people could get there heads out of that very dark place, they'd begin to sense the insanity of their pursuit.

Oh, and just another little pet peeve: upon checkout, we were notified that our “Rewards Savings” amounted to 5%! All this means is that some other hapless shopper has subsidized our purchase. Just as corporations seek to "externalize costs", consumers behave the same. My savings are another consumer's loss. (You can be certain the corporation is not going to take the loss! That would be dereliction of duty to shareholders.)

Another small "Spring Cleaning" project today: straightening up the garage. Garages back in these parts aren't nearly so useful for storage as they are in California. People here actually park their vehicles in the garages! It took all of fifteen minutes to restore order to Jeff's garage.

At Jeff's request, I worked on restringing a wind chime that had come apart. He claimed his hands weren't steady enough to thread the filament and tie the knots. It was a tiny project I could "get into".

For dinner, Jeff whipped up some tasty pasta with meat sauce.

Just in time, I finished up notes from the past few weeks. Tomorrow I move on!

Kellie came over. We old guys wanted to watch Neil Young’s Prairie Wind DVD, but she couldn’t quite "deal with it." (Some ancient hippie whining out loud.) Then Matt came over. He first took Jeff aside and asked to borrow money to meet his car payment, which is overdue. Jeff calmly and firmly refused, correctly observing that Matt makes "good money" now, and should have no problem meeting his expenses. Sometimes, we just need a gentle push.

In spite of this, everyone was in a good mood, and there was lots of playful banter. After the "kids" (now middle-aged adults, really!) left, Jeff and I watched Neil Young’s 2000 concert at Red Rock. An extraordinary performance, featuring an amazing drummer I didn't recognize. Though I have not always shared his taste in music, Young is a master musician, performer and artist. The concert ended in the rain, the band being soaked while they continued to play. (God knows how they avoided electrocution.) A real tour de force.

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