Business Comes & Goes, So Does a Culture

There were days when we would go downtown to shop. It wasn’t like going to the grocery or hardware store. No, this was something special, and we would dress for the occasion.  Mother would take her dress gloves out of the drawer, and along with her dress and high heels, she would take out a hat from a box. I would wear dress slacks, shiny shoes, and a sport coat. There were times when I too would wear a hat.

We rode the bus from uptown to downtown, and we weren’t all that out of place in the way we dressed. Most of the other people riding would be dressed in what we might now refer to as business casual.

Minneapolis_downtown_Powers_dept_store_1950sUpon arriving downtown, we might walk down the street and look in various store windows to see what was on display. Most of them of course were pitching their current sales, but there was competition among the variety of retailers as to who might have the most attractive window display.

Minneapolis_Emporium_diner_1950s

Emporium tea room 1940-50s Minneapolis

Eventually we would enter a store, either through double doors which we would pull open, or by entering a revolving door which you or someone else would push to rotate your part of the large glass triangle, until you could enter the store. What awaited your eyes were a couple of things. Usually a store greeter, but not the disinterested couch potatoes who might greet you at Walmart. No, these would be smartly dressed people that knew how to smile. The other thing immediately noticed were the row upon row, of neatly arranged aisles with well placed merchandise on shelves, in displays, or on mannequins. As you made your way to the center of the store, there would be several elevators. Each elevator had a person inside the elevator who would open up the doors, or gate and doors for you to enter. They would then close the doors after everyone that could or wanted to get on. You then would tell them your floor, and they would make the selection for you. Each of these ‘operators’, wore some type of uniform, some with hats, most also wore gloves.

Sears_Tower_1988_1All that changed quickly as the suburbs began to erect large enclosed shopping malls. There were of course what we call strip malls. Stores that shared a large common parking lot and each retailer store were aligned side by side. That didn’t nearly have the impact of the enclosed shopping mall. Once they were constructed, many of the downtown stores simple opened their store in the new mall. This took a big toll on downtown retailers. They typically paid higher rates for taxes, most didn’t have convenient parking. They relied on nearby parking decks and lots, or those like us, who took city transportation. The downtown retailers didn’t maintain their greeters, elevator operators. Even their display windows became less interesting, a far simpler asthetic became the norm.

Those times seem strange to people unfamiliar with that era. Most downtowns have morphed into high rise condominiums, or permanent apartments. Either that or they were torn down as if part of a failed social experiment.

All that has changed again. Many shopping malls are skeletons of what they once were. Some malls have closed entirely. All this due to the evolution brought on by the Internet. The Amazon shopping model has become the new norm. First it was mail order. The big retailers like Sears, JC Penny adapted well. Then the Internet became a ready made 24/7 sales facility. Display windows are now the Internet tabs to click and expand. People still shop, the delivery times are quick and you might not even get out of your night clothes. Social interaction is minimized.

New_York_Lord_Taylor_store_closing

Oldest department store company in the US is disappearing entirely from Fifth Avenue after 104 years

The New York Post just came out with a lament on how much the retail store front is disappearing, and how it’s changing the character of the city.

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Sears closed last store in Chicago Illinois

The Chicago Tribune opines over the loss of the last Chicago Sears store. The once mighty retail giant, headquartered in Chicago is gone. There building tower still stands, but was sold off years before.

It’s fundamentally changing business, but furthermore, it’s removing us from personal interaction and social restraint. If social media is the replacement for the way friends might meet at the mall, or take day trips downtown, it’s a poor substitute.

Along with the loss of social skills comes another challenge, the need for fewer people. Just like the elevator operators, greeters and floor persons, all will disappear when picking and delivery become fully automated.

Retail has indeed changed, and so too has the culture.

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How to Be – A Lighter View on Life

Permit me to say a few things that are about you, yes you, even though I’m going to say some things about me. It may seem like a strange intro, but it will make more sense if you read on.

49_ford_at_stoplight_cI’m rather like that old car you might have seen on the road or in a parking lot. You know the one that looks dated, the shine has mostly gone, but it’s not a rare classic, so you’re not going to spend a lot of time looking at it, or thinking about it. You’re just going to move along.

Here’s what you probably don’t know, the car looks dated, but it still provides the owner reliable transportation. It sometimes takes a bit more effort to start, it’s seen a lot of miles, but the joy in driving it is still there. Now that I’ve said that, and as limited as analogies are, let’s find out more about you.

Almost anyone who is a regular on social media writes things, and over time, you get to know who that person is, or at least how they perceive the world. Many of you are younger than me, quite a few are significantly younger. In a way, I’m that old car, which you pass, and the things that catch and hold your attention are not old cars.

Mike USMC Hawaii on the beachKeep in mind, that car was once new and shinier, more contemporary. You might say, I’ve been where you’re are now, but you haven’t gone through all the things that I have or you would look more like … the older car.

When I frequently read things that say something like, “I don’t give a F” or that this person (insert well known person’s name here), is a cretin, there’s something disturbing going on inside you. I’m not talking about someone who occasionally says such things, I’m talking about those of you that pitch and rant about somebody, usually that same someone, almost every day.

The other description I see, are about those of you that constantly assert, it’s my life and I’ll think, say, do, and look the way I want. Of course you can, you’re responsible for you, no one else is, but there are consequences of your actions and reactions to your appearance which may not be what you wanted. It goes without saying, you may do and think what you want, but you don’t live in a vacuum. If you’re feeling the need to tell people you demand independence, or you don’t care about others, why the need to constantly remind us? Remember, you’ve stated you’re not interested in the opinion of others, yet you frequently say this in a public forum. That’s a bit incongruous, yes?

beware-false-claims-2I think I’ve passed through these experiences before. I believe if you find yourself frequently angry, tired of the actions of an entertainer, a politician, professional athlete, or some other famous person, or feel compelled to tell others to go ‘F’ themselves; there’s things going on within your mind that require additional sorting and figuring out.

Whatever you’re doing, the places and people your mind is focused on, it’s not serving you well. You are spending time on a topic or person which you’ve declared to be offensive or disturbing. Do you really think that’s going to make things better, or the object of your dissatisfaction improve?

Find another place for your mind to travel, make new associations, listen, watch, read about other things. It’s not good for you to dwell on other people you don’t like. You aren’t changing or harming them, you’re only chipping away at yourself. I know this is difficult to see, you may not want to admit it, but there’s something going on inside that just isn’t right, and whatever it is, it’s not going to get better unless you decide to make a change in you.

Let me say that unhappiness most often isn’t your physical location. It can be, but are things really better if you move or travel to ______? Wherever that fill in the blank place is located, you’re going to be the same person when you get there. The same thoughts, frustrations, habits, will go with you.

So, I’m suggesting it’s more about you. You need to be able to enjoy things around you, now. You should feel happy, even alone, without stimulus, and in your present location.

a  walk at sunset.jpgTake a few moments, away from the things that make you disturbed, perturbed, or frustrated. It may mean you have to change your current method of making decisions, choices, patterns of eating, drinking, or with whom you associate. That disassociation can take several forms. It may be there are “friends” you should stop seeing, corresponding, talking to, or reading about. It may be that reading the news, watching the news, or listening to it, has you fired up. Get away, and find new sources, or none at all. You’re going to need some time, so don’t expect immediate positive results.

If you find yourself saying, I could care less, maybe you need to care more? Maybe your lack of concern about others is actually doing more harm to yourself than you think. How about finding people and circumstances that cause you to care more about them, and less time about yourself? Apathy isn’t a key to successful, enjoyable living!

If none of this makes sense to you, maybe it’s because it doesn’t apply to you. I can be reasonably certain it does for some people. Maybe even for many that don’t recognize they’re that sort of person. Whomever you are, no matter what you’re thinking as of this moment, you deserve to be happy.

The Road to Any Damascus is Laden with Potholes

The search for reality is the most dangerous of all undertakings, for it destroys the world in which you live.
– Nisargadatta Maharaj

I don’t know anything about this person, but I can say from my own personal experience, it’s absolutely true. If life has taught me anything, ”don’t steer clear of the tough questions, or even those you don’t have answers”. There are many more questions than any of us currently have answers, and even some in which we think we do, we may very well be wrong.

behaviorial-change-intention-chart

For most of us, perception is reality. It drives our everyday decisions, but moreover, through assumptions, attitudes, observations, intentions, and habits, our behavior is altered. We do become what we think, so perhaps that’s the thing that creates within me, a desire to find out for myself. I know that I don’t have answers for many of life’s tough questions. I gain insight through the help of others. Ultimately, it falls on me to make my discoveries and choices.

Whenever you contemplate your own existence, how you or others perceive the world in which you live, it may not match reality. Furthermore, you may not even be aware of your misconceptions. Worse still, if you do nothing to challenge your own assumptions or those of other people, you’re stuck in a fundamental crossroad between reality and wishful, maybe even harmful, thinking.

No one can build you the bridge on which you, and only you, must cross the river of life. There may be countless trails and bridges and demigods who would gladly carry you across; but only at the price of pawning and forgoing yourself. There is one path in the world that none can walk but you. Where does it lead? Don’t ask, walk!
~ Nietzsche

I’ve posted personal information before about my membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (“Mormons”). I’ve also posted that I left that organization over 20 years ago. I still have a few friends who are members. None of my adult children, at the time of this writing, have any affiliation with that organization. It’s their own choice. Their mother still believes in this religious organization. I left it a few years after my divorce. Those two events aren’t connected.

What do Mormons believe about general inquiry & introspection?
The LDS Church “Mormons” believe that freedom of choice, “agency” is an eternal principle. Agency is the fundamental right of any individual to choose between good and bad, and to act for themselves.

Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.” ~ 2 Nephi 2:27.

The LDS Church (easier to abbreviate than the longer official title), informs its members to read official “canonized” religious texts, ponder, and pray for personal answers to any questions they might have. They’re to develop a personal relationship with God. The religion is based on inquiry and individual revelation. If however, you come up with a different answer than that which has been given through official channels of communication, then you’re to accept the church answer, and re-think your own in attempting to further understand the basis of your differences.
For more information specific go here:
https://www.mormon.org/beliefs

question_button_imageThe purpose of giving you that brief background, if you’re not familiar with the organization, isn’t to examine any religion, it’s just to examine specific portions of their beliefs, and learn how your methods of finding answers, compare. It’s not so important that you have specific knowledge about any religion for this post to be relevant. What’s important is asking, how do you gain insight about the world around you, and how do you challenge your own beliefs? Most of us come to a “world view”, fairly early on in our life. We may revise it along the way, but peer (the society in which we live) pressure, often steers us into a general consensus with those to whom we associate.


How do you decide what’s correct and what’s false?
If you’re honest, at least with yourself, you know that’s not an easy process. So what do you read, listen to, or watch to help guide you in life’s journey? If you choose to respond, I’m looking for things more in depth than, you go for long walks in the woods. I’m not suggesting that you don’t or that it’s not a good idea. I’m looking for more specifics. What do you do?

“Your true educators and cultivators will reveal to you the original sense and basic stuff of your being, something that is not ultimately amenable to education or cultivation by anyone else, but that is always difficult to access, something bound and immobilized; your educators cannot go beyond being your liberators. And that is the secret of all true culture: she does not present us with artificial limbs, wax-noses, bespectacled eyes — for such gifts leave us merely with a sham image of education. She is liberation instead, pulling weeds, removing rubble, chasing away the pests that would gnaw at the tender roots and shoots of the plant; she is an effusion of light and warmth, a tender trickle of nightly rain…” ~ Parker Palmer

There are quite a few followers to this blog. Some have made it official by clicking on the link below, to follow. I’m not asking you to follow me, I see the statistics, but most of you are silent. I know better than assume you don’t have an opinion. I want to read yours. Don’t be bashful, be candid. Please, if you’re just someone that wants to come in and shout and stomp so that you can get attention, take your circus elsewhere. I’m looking for people who have taken the time to think this sort of thing through. cartoon-people-clapping

I’m also not looking for this to be about an open forum on religion. I’ve heard the canned answers, the public sermons, the pat answers. Let’s make this interesting.