Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Weather is screwed up!

Winter is now close to a week old.  It’s almost the end of 2011.  It’s December in Maine.  And what do we have for weather?  How about Texas getting snow while Maine gets rain?  That’s what this latest storm has brought.  Who can remember when the temperatures this time of year here have been closer to those of late March or early April than what we should be getting here.

I’m no longer a snow buff although I still like to see some snow.  I usually no longer strike out in my car during snow storms; and when I do, I have my walking stick with me and it has a ice grabber.  Walking is a serious challenge and a scary one for me.  If the snow or ice causes me to fall, I’ll probably break something.  That’s what osteoporosis does to you.  The temperatures and rain we’re getting this season aren’t conducive to ice and snow.

The Maine Legislature returns to Augusta for its second session next week.  Congress folk will be returning to Washington to continue doing nothing.  Republicans have demonstrated they have a tough time sticking together and a tougher time figuring out how get true reform, change, spending/budget control.  Therefore, I have little faith any real accomplishment, less on the federal level, will succeed.

I haven’t seen the list of stores Sears/K-Mart will be closing yet, so I don’t know if any of them will be in Maine or locally.  It is a shame to watch these stores fail and probably heading for extinction.  I’d hate to try to figure out all the things that we have bought through the years from Sears.  Until not too long ago, all our appliances, for example, were Kenmore.  Consumer Reports consistently rated Kenmore brand, even though they were all made be companies will much lower ratings, at the top.

Craftsman stuff couldn’t be touched for quality and longevity.  In fact, many if not most of my tools bought as many as 50 years ago are still in use.

We also loved the local K-Marts (Kresge when they were in downtown Portland) before they were bought out by Sears Holdings.  But along came Wal-Mart.  It appeared to me that K-Mart simply threw in the towel rather than fight to do better than Wal-Mart and the quality of the store, the sales people, and the cleanliness fell rapidly.  And soon the Scarborough store entered history.

Sears (also once in downtown Portland), too, stopped upgrading their stores.  There is nothing exciting or inviting about the store at the Maine Mall.  It has been probably  fifteen or more years since we bought an appliance there.  They drove us away.  That last appliance broke down and we called for service.  By the time the fee for them to answer the phone, the fee for them to write the repair order, the fee for them to send it to the repair shop and get assigned, the time and mileage fee just to come to our home to evaluate the appliance, and on and on, it became painfully obvious that for just a few more dollars, we could replace the appliance elsewhere.  Our appliance business is now with a locally, family owned company.

Earlier this year, we did return to price something at Sears.  We found the item and it appeared to be competitively priced.  We waited for a sales person to help us out with some questions.  And we waited.  And waited.  Nearby was a sales kiosk of sorts.  No one was there.  We left.

From my perspective, if Sears/K-Mart are running out of time, it’s solely because of their own business practices and failure to put the customer into a position in at least seemingly importance. Sears Holdings, it would appear, simply has never entered the 21st Century and now it’s feeling the consequences.

Added Thurs. P.M.:  Sears Holdings announced this afternoon the list of stores to close.  Maine stores have apparently survived this round of cutting.  You can see the list here but expect a loading wait.

Let’s close today with Iraq.  Are we satisfied that “We won” or are we satisfied we left that country in a stable, developing democracy?  It seems to be reverting to “former Iraq” even faster than we expected.


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