Category Archives: Culture

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.

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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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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.


The Welfare of Children – Health Care 101

Potions, lotions, self-proclaimed notions aren’t a sensible substitute for modern medicine. Polio, smallpox, measles, mumps, rubella, typhoid, tuberculosis, and other infectious diseases have been successfully prevented through routine vaccinations. Some of the previous communicable diseases have begun to spread, primarily from those who have entered the country undetected from less developed countries, and the refusal of some people to not allow their children to be vaccinated. A person not vaccinated can spread disease to others who have weakened immune systems or pregnant women.

Advice concerning important health decisions for the welfare of your children should be sought from people who have years of education, research & training, not from celebrities or most politicians.

What you should know about child vaccinations. C - sitting in a tree

The efficacy or performance of a vaccine is dependent on a number of factors:

  • the disease itself (for some diseases vaccination performs better than for others)
  • the strain of vaccine (some vaccines are specific to, or at least most effective against, particular strains of the disease)
  • whether the vaccination schedule has been properly observed.
  • idiosyncratic response to vaccination; some individuals are “non-responders” to certain vaccines, meaning that they do not generate antibodies even after being vaccinated correctly.
  • assorted factors such as ethnicity, age, or genetic predisposition.

If a vaccinated individual does develop the disease vaccinated against (breakthrough infection), the disease is likely to be less virulent than in unvaccinated victims.

Bill & Melinda Gates in 2010 pledged to donate $10 billion over the following decade, to deliver vaccines to developing countries in an effort to reduce childhood mortality.

Jenny McCarthy, in a recent Time interview, believes vaccines cause autism. She stood firm behind her claim that the MMR vaccine caused autism in her son Evan, whom she believes is now cured thanks to a string of alternative therapies.

She’s another person who lacks credentials or sufficient scientific research to support her claims.

Bill Maher tweeted this opinion on the swine flu vaccine: “If u get a swine flu shot ur an idiot.” Maher, advised pregnant women not to get it, and said it was akin to “letting someone stick a disease in your arm.”

The swine flu shot contains a dead virus, and the nasal spray a weakened version of the virus, neither of which can cause you to contract swine flu.

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr said that there is “a strong enough connection that the CDC should be looking into” the link between autism and the mercury-based ingredient thimerosal in vaccines.

According to the FDA, thimerosal has been “removed from or reduced to trace amounts” in vaccines for children 6 years or younger, except for the inactivated flu vaccine.

Thimerosal in Vaccines

Thimerosal is a mercury-based preservative that has been used for decades in the United States in multi-dose vials (vials containing more than one dose) of medicines and vaccines. There is no evidence of harm caused by the low doses of thimerosal in vaccines, except for minor reactions like redness and swelling at the injection site. However, in July 1999, the Public Health Service agencies, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and vaccine manufacturers agreed that thimerosal should be reduced or eliminated in vaccines as a precautionary measure.

Mercury is a naturally occurring element found in the earth’s crust, air, soil, and water. Two types of mercury to which people may be exposed — methylmercury and ethylmercury — are very different.

Methylmercury is the type of mercury found in certain kinds of fish. At high exposure levels methylmercury can be toxic to people. In the United States, federal guidelines keep as much methylmercury as possible out of the environment and food, but over a lifetime, everyone is exposed to some methylmercury.

Thimerosal contains ethylmercury, which is cleared from the human body more quickly than methylmercury, and is therefore less likely to cause any harm.

Thimerosal is added to vials of vaccine that contain more than one dose (multi-dose vials) to prevent growth of germs, like bacteria and fungi. Contamination by germs in a vaccine could cause severe local reactions, serious illness or death. In some vaccines, preservatives, including thimerosal, are added during the manufacturing process to prevent germ growth.

Immunization Recommendations for Disaster Response Operations

Disaster Recovery Personnel

  • Adult. Ensure personnel are current for ALL routine adult
    vaccinations based on age and health status.
  • Hepatitis A. Review records for evidence of immunization. If needed,
    begin or complete the two-dose Hepatitis A vaccine series. This series
    may be completed using the monovalent or bivalent (combination)
    vaccine. Further guidance on completing the vaccinations series is
    available at http://www.health.mil/hepA.
  • Hepatitis B. Review records for evidence of immunization. If needed,
    begin or complete the three-dose Hepatitis B vaccine series. This series
    may be completed using the monovalent or bivalent (combination)
    vaccine. Further guidance on completing vaccination series is available
    at http://www.health.mil/hepB.
  • Influenza. Vaccinate personnel with the current seasonal influenza
    vaccine if available.
  • Tetanus. In accordance with the current Centers for Disease Control &
    Prevention (CDC) guidelines, responders should receive a tetanus booster
    if they have not been vaccinated for tetanus during the past 10 years. Td
    (tetanus/diphtheria) or Tdap (tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis) can be used;
    receiving one dose of Tdap for one tetanus booster during adulthood is
    recommended to maintain protection against pertussis.
  • Consistent with CDC wound-management guidelines, anyone who develops a puncture
    wound or has a wound contaminated with dirt, feces, soil, or saliva needs
    a Td booster (or Tdap if applicable) if the most recent dose was more than
    5 years earlier.
  • Rabies. Veterinarians and people involved in animal-control efforts should assess the localized risk of rabies exposure and consider their need for pre-exposure prophylaxis. Persons who are exposed to potentially rabid
    animals should be evaluated and receive standard post-exposure
    prophylaxis, as clinically appropriate.

Travel-Related Vaccines. When responding to a disaster outside of the
United States, non-routine vaccines may be recommended based on the
CDC Health Information for International Travel (commonly called the
Yellow Book) or required by the Force Health Protection Guidance issued
by the Combatant Command Surgeon’s Office.

Keep it simple.

by Dr. John H Schumann MD

In spite of all the science and technology in medicine, what we doctors do is more about making educated guesses. Especially in primary care, it’s often a matter of playing the probabilities more than providing precise diagnostic information.

But prevention is different. We know a lot about it, based on huge bodies of epidemiological research. Most of prevention is fairly straightforward. You’ve heard the advice again and again. In fact, the repetition may make it easy to tune out.

  • Get enough sleep.
  • Move your body throughout the day.
  • Eat well — a healthy assortment of foods. Mostly plants, and not too much. (An idea popularized by author Michael Pollan.)
  • Interact socially. Isolation is not good for the body, soul or mind.
  • Take some time to reflect on what you are grateful for.

John Henning Schumann is a writer and doctor in Tulsa, Okla. He serves as president of the University of Oklahoma, Tulsa.

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Ben_young_Collie_1Children are given shots (vaccines) at a young age because this is when they are at highest risk of getting sick or dying if they get these diseases. Newborn babies are immune to some diseases because they have antibodies they get from their mothers, usually before they are born. However, this immunity lasts a few months. Most babies do not get protective antibodies against diphtheria, whooping cough, polio, tetanus, hepatitis B, or Hib from their mothers. This is why it’s important to vaccinate a child before she or he is exposed to a disease.
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