Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Here I am in PA. I arrived yesterday about 12:30 at my Mom's house. I didn't tell her that I was coming up because she worries if I don't arrive at the specified time. So, my arrivals are always unannounced. Entering her small ranch house, her old calico cat Mollly was performing sentry duty sitting on the windowsill by the back door. She gave me a perfunctory glance, indicating she knew how I was and I could pass safely into the house. Shhe then returned to her vigil for a stray mouse.

Upon entering the house, all was quiet. Both my Mom and my brother were taking naps in the living room. My Mom on her platform bed that I gave to her years ago that she had put in the living room because it was good for her back. My brother Isaac was sleeping on the couch. I normally also take an afternoon nap, but I had a full schedule ahead of me.

I turned on her computer to check my e-mails and my Facebook account. I had to update my status on FB, priorities you know. No new e-mails or FB messages. By this time my Mom woke up and went into the kitchen. I turned the computer off and joined her in the kitchen. She told me she wasn't feeling good. This is our usual conversation. My Mother is 85 years old and feeling the effects of her age. She told me she is dying. Again, our usual conversation. I told her that we're all going to die. We just don't know when. I told her that I was going to Wegmans and asked her of she wanted to go. She didn't. I also told her that I would be staying at a friend's house for the two nights I was in Pennsylvania. My friend has invited me to stay at his place because he has a new guest room. I felt bad about turning him down the last time I was in PA. This time I took him up on his offer.

I left for lunch at Wegmans. I also had to pick up some hummus (their spicy hummus is the best "Mama Mia, thatsa soma spicy hummus!) and some other items for my short stay in PA. Back home, I spent more time with my Mom then I left for my friend's house and dinner. Later in the evening I was scheduled to attend a 50 class reunion committee meeting.

Dinner was great! We had spaghetti and meatballs. My friend's daughter had made the spaghetti sauce on Sunday. It seasoned well. Hot and spicy, just the way I like it. I had two servings. Delicious. Better than any restaurant meal I've had lately. Especially down Rehoboth Beach way. I don't know what it is with the restaurants in Rehoboth Beach, they're just so-s0. Expensive but not very memorable foodwise. I see a lot of Sysco trucks going down Route 1. Maybe that's the problem.

After dinner Bill B. and I watched a video of Big and Rich. Bill is a fan of Big and Rich. I enjoyed watching the video on Bill's 52 inch TV but he needs to get surround sound to get the best effect of the concert. I beat that horse to death. I kept telling him "You got to get surround sound, you won't believe what a difference it makes." I think he got the message.

After watching Big and Rich we left for the reunion committee meeting. It was good to see our classmates again. One thing is unmistakable, we're all aging. I guess so, after 50 years. Still, we had some good laughs and share some good memories. We still have the sense of humor of 17 year olds. That hasn't changed.

I took videos and pictures but I won't be able to post them until I get to my home computer. A generic picture will have to do on this blog posting.

Right now, I'm going to leave and hit the Exton Mall. A shopping mall, that's something else (besides Wegmans) that we don't have in Slower Lower. I'm going to do my bit to stimulate the economy today. Then I'm stopping my my Aunt Mabel to return pictures that she loaned to me for my genealogy research.

Tonight we have dinner at the Brickside Grill then play trivia. I'm looking forward to that. It's always a lot of fun to get together with friends and test our knowledge of absulutely useless facts. We just missed by one point winning a $50 gift cerificate the last time we played. We intend to win tonight. Especially since we have a new name for our team "What Happened To My 401 K?"
Tomorrow I leave for home in Delaware. I'm also looking forward to that. After all, in the end there really is no place like home. Even if it is in Slower Lower without shopping malls and a Wegmans.


  1. Nice - you get to see your mother again so soon after your last visit.

    Reunions - fun!

    As to new e-mails, I've sent you about 5 this week; no reply, so possibly you're not getting all your e-mails as you should be?????

    Here's the one I sent on March 9 - copied Doug; this seemed to underscore and endorse Doug's new venture with the book-store:

    Growth is a word rarely uttered in tough economic times, especially among businesses that are fighting for survival. But when companies have already stretched their resources to the max, survival and growth are often one and the same. “Customers grow very discriminating in tough economies,” says Scott Anthony, president of Innosight LLC, a consulting and investing company in Watertown, Mass. “If you aren’t providing something they value, they will vote with their wallets.”

    Fortunately, growing a business in uncertain times is possible. Just ask Karen Schwettman, Jackie Tanase, and Ellen Ward, owners of FoxTale Book Shoppe, an independent bookstore in Woodstock, Ga. In just 18 months, they have steadily grown their store into a community fixture by eschewing doom-and-gloom thinking and sharing their passion for the business with customers at every opportunity.

    “You’ve got to expect that your community and customers are going to support you, and you’ve got to be excited about your business,” Ward says. “If you’re not excited, people will go elsewhere.”

    Tapping into the power of positive thinking isn’t the only secret to FoxTale’s success in growing its customer base. Here are four other lessons from the little bookstore that businesses should heed:

    1. Roll out the welcome mat. Whether your business runs out of a physical location or a Web site, make sure the customer experience is user-friendly, interactive, and interesting enough that people will want to keep coming back -- and tell their friends about it. FoxTale provides a welcoming atmosphere that envelops customers, with faux fireplace hearths, a fun children’s reading room, and creative, rotating design elements like fox prints on the floor for the kids to follow. The owners also engage customers in discussion and welcome many by name.

    “We joke that it’s like a bar,” Ward says. “People sit at our big store counter -- which is an antique door laid on its side -- and they pour their hearts out to us.”

    Steve Bloom, president of Capcom Inc., a consulting firm in Canton, Ga., advises entrepreneurs to pinpoint what distinguishes their business from the competition. “A downturn is a great time to look at your business development plan, concentrating on your marketing strategy and what changes need to be made,” he says.

    2. Think outside the box. FoxTale has hosted jewelry workshops, children’s tea parties, journaling classes, holiday parties, and other events. These not only provide value to the community, they also represent opportunities to sell more books.

    Companies of all kinds can offer extra services and benefits to get people through the door. "A small business could consider offering loyalty programs, discounts for bundled or bulk offerings, or different payment or fulfillment mechanisms,” Anthony says. “The goal is to find a relatively easy way to make yourself more indispensable to your customer.”

    3. Advertise on the cheap. In the course of starting up FoxTale, the owners happened to buy themselves fedoras. Realizing the hats could be a symbol for their store, they had a designer place one on the female fox in their logo, and they now sell these trademark hats in the store. Customers who buy the hats gain a sense of membership in the FoxTale community and provide free advertising for the store as they wear them around town.

    FoxTale also builds customer loyalty by sending a bimonthly online newsletter, complete with upcoming events and book reviews. What’s more, the owners maintain personal blogs, and they notify their best customers when a new book arrives that might be of interest.

    4. Go the extra mile. Through persistence and charm, FoxTale’s owners have managed to lure big names in literature (such as Andre Dubus III, author of House of Sand and Fog) who ordinarily would not have gone anywhere close to Woodstock. Says Ward: “We try to give our customers the authors they want to see. Then we can tell our community, ‘Here’s what you asked for, now come out and support [us].’ It’s a two-way relationship.”

    Don’t Stand Pat

    It turns out that bad economic times can be just the right time to be aggressive.

    When Innosight President Scott Anthony and his colleague Tim Huse analyzed data from the past three economic downturns in the U.S., they discovered that those companies most likely to succeed used what Anthony calls a “disruptive idea to transform a current market or create a new one by focusing on simplicity, affordability, or accessibility.”

    “A surprisingly high number of great companies, like GE, IBM, and Kraft, were formed in years that featured a recession,” Anthony adds.

    This article originally appeared in the customer communications and marketing newsletter fuelNet Monthly.To read more marketing advice from fuelNet, click here.

    This one on March 3:

    News & Opinion
    Tuesday, March 3, 2009


    Evading the Facebook worm
    The Facebook worm is back, said Gregg Keizer in Computerworld. And this time the mal-ware that plagued gullible Face-book users around the world in December is hitting users of MySpace, Friendster, LiveJournal, and other social-networking web-sites as well. Like the first variant, the new Koobface worm "tries to dupe users into clicking on a link that's included in a message from a friend."

    As always, said Brian Krebs in The Washington Post, "practicing basic online street smarts can save you from falling for these types of attacks." To protect yourself, "be extremely cautious about clicking on links in unsolicited messages, even if they appear to have been sent by a friend." And never install applications or programs you didn't go looking for.

    Users aren't the only ones to blame when worms strike, said Britain's The Independent. Face-book has been hit by five security problems in the past week, and security experts blame Face-book's "laissez-faire approach to the vetting of new utilities on the site." That's another reason people out to steal data find it so easy to "exploit users' trust" in Face-book.

    Another one since you commented about e*trade in an earlier post:

    Got this today from E*Trade. UGH!!!!! I am so through with this company!!!!!

    After long and serious consideration, E*TRADE Securities has made the decision to discontinue our family of proprietary index mutual funds.

    As a result, the E*TRADE S&P 500 (ETSPX), Russell 2000 (ETRUX), Technology (ETTIX), and International (ETINX) Index Funds will be liquidated on a date no later than March 27, 2009 (the "Liquidation Date").

    Of course, even though we are discontinuing these funds, as an E*TRADE customer, you have access to over 7,000 funds to help you find the right alternative.

    Here are a few important points to keep in mind:

    Effective as of the close of business on February 23, 2009, no purchases of the funds may be made and any applicable redemption fees or account fees charged by the funds will be waived.

    If you do not redeem your shares yourself, your shares will be automatically converted to cash equal to their net asset value on the Liquidation Date. You will receive proceeds equal to the net asset value of the shares you held on the Liquidation Date after provision for all charges, expenses, and liabilities of the fund.

    The redemption is treated as a taxable transaction, and you will have to pay taxes on the proceeds of the liquidation, even if your shares are automatically redeemed on the Liquidation Date.

    Please be assured that this decision has nothing at all to do with the financial health of E*TRADE FINANCIAL, which has been, and continues to be, very well capitalized by every applicable regulatory standard.

    View an important prospectus update with more detailed information about the liquidation. Enter the ticker symbol to access the prospectus supplement for your particular fund.

    You can easily find alternative funds with the help of our powerful screener or, if you have questions or would like help finding alternative investments for your cash proceeds, please call 1-800-ETRADE-1 (1-800-387-2331) from 7 a.m. To midnight ET. Or log on to your account and send us a Secure Message through the Online Service Center.

    As always, we appreciate your business and the opportunity to serve you.

  2. Diane,
    Thanks for the information. I'm behind in my e-mails. Some of them I don't read. Just too far behind. Some will go unread.

    I'm in PA now and getting ready to leave. Thanks for the warning about FB. I enjoy it and will continue to use the site. I'll be careful as I am in everything else on the Internet. Danger lurks just about everywhere for those who have nothing better to do than to destroy. It's a shame but such is the nature of some people who inhabit this planet earth. Unlike my friends who were so gracious in hospitality and offered to let me stay in their home these past few days. I'm off now, back home to Delaware.


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