Debunking of the Article “Bird Marts – The Single Greatest Threat to Avian Health”

There has been an article circulating the internet for some time now, which essentially bashes what is very commonplace in the bird world – bird marts. This article makes very dangerous claims that have raised the hackles of many avian enthusiasts today. The subjects swabbed eight different events across the country for disease at such bird events. The author claims that the goal of the testing “was to be able to demonstrate these problems exist universally throughout the US” and lists the results of the events. All records listed claim that the events tested yielded positive results for two or more major diseases. The article then goes on to continually bash anyone who participates in such events, even go so far as to conclude that “The potential for generating and spreading fatal avian diseases is unsurpassed anywhere in the world as it is at ‘bird mart’ type events. We have not found a single ‘bird event’ free of these diseases…. it is unconscionable to believe that:

anyone who cares for birds would hold any event where young birds are present for display or sale.
anyone would attend any event to purchase items for birds
any person would ever attend any event with such a high degree of fatal organisms waiting to be transmitted to healthy birds.
anyone would support or recommend any such event. ”
Such bold, brass, statements leave me reeling every time I read this article- and I have gone over it many times! In all fairness to such ‘bird events’, let’s discuss the many aspects not included in the article, and why such statements should be made with caution.

Issue #1- “These events have risen to become the single greatest threat to bird health we have ever encountered.”

The above statement is bold one. It’s enough to strike fear into any bird owners heart. The last thing we wish to do is track home communicable diseases that could make our birds sick, and potentially transmitted to our entire flock. What this statement does not include is several key elements. Who backs this statement that marts are the single greatest threat we have ever encountered? Are there statistics to back up this so called data? How many birds a year are victim of disease brought home from a mart? Why target just marts? Bird marts are not the only places where people can go and interact with birds, food, and supplies, in an open area. Bird stores that have live stock are the same, and there are even tourist attractions that mimic the atmosphere of a mart or show. In Miami, Florida, Parrot Jungle comes to mind. One can pay an admission fee (like a mart), walk through the many rows of birds that are out on stands and in habitats (like a mart). You can interact with some of the birds by feeding them, holding them, or even taking a picture with them (like a mart). Parrot Mountain in Tennessee is the same way. So why single out marts? There are many other venues that have the possibility to be just as dangerous, if not more.

Issue #2 – The Tests and Subsequent Results

The article makes the bold claim that “our goal was to be able to demonstrate these problems exist universally.”, and presents the results in a tabled fashion. Unfortunately, there are so many holes in the information presented its next to impossible to be able to grasp the entire picture. The article claims that eight events were tested, and swabbed for the following diseases: PBFD, Polyoma, and Chlamydia. In each event, two out of 3 diseases yielded positive results. What the article fails to say is how exactly the areas were tested. Was each area tested multiple times, in case of a false positive? Exact dates and locations are not listed, only month and year. The testing started in 1998, and ended in 2000, according to the so called study. Did the testing method vary at all? Were multiple swabs taken and tested by a panel of certified avian veterinarians, to ensure that a full spectrum study was carried out?

Unfortunately, so much as the text of the article reveals, none of the above questions can be answered. One question that lingers in my mind, is that; if there was such a high case of disease, were the venues notified so they could be properly disinfected? Interestingly, some of the test results report positives from a ‘reptile exhibitor’. Seeing as how reptiles are not birds, and therefore have different diseases that live on them (case in point, salmonella and turtles,) are those results an accurate reflection of true avian diseases? Another burning question I have is as to where these tests were taken, specifically. The claim to ‘demonstrate these problems exist universally’ cannot be supported. Eight tests in eight locations is a small number in comparison to the number of events and locations that take place each year. Because no information was given as to where the tests were conducted, it can only leave us to wonder if all these events happened in the same state or within the same area. If this is true, then the results yielded would be inconclusive as it would be a contained breakout and not one that people nationally must be concerned about.

Issue #2- The Time Period

Whenever someone brings this article to my attention (as it is on a semi regular basis, such is the internet age), the first thing I question is if this information is even relevant anymore. Why do I wonder this? Because all of this information was collected and presented eight years ago. While eight years doesn’t appear to be a long time in the past, with the rapid way we are embracing technology to learn more about our avian friends, eight years can be a lifetime. Eight years ago, we knew a lot less about food, diet, nutrition, Vitamin D synthesis, and viruses (just to name a few) then we do today. In this day and age we are armed with information that can overrule previously believed and carried out bird keeping practices. In eight years, leaps and bounds has been made with diseases such as Polyoma, PDD, and Aspergilliousis. Case in point is the statement made by the article author “Some exhibitors proudly display signs stating that their birds are protected by a Polyoma vaccine. Whether or not the vaccine offers any protection from Polyoma is still up for debate…”. Such a statement is a true sign of the times. Nowadays, it is the norm to vaccinate all chicks for polyoma, and species such as caiques that are more susceptible to the diseases are required to have the vaccination, because it is proven to be effective.

Issue #3 – Incomplete study

The statement that winds up the article is one that boldly proclaims “We have not found a single bird event free of these diseases!”. Again, I must reiterate. Only eight events were tested. The testing stopped in the year 2000 and only spanned a period of study lasting two years. How many events have gone, during and since the period of testing? One can only guess. I have attended several bird events, including actual bird shows, marts (with vendors), and roundtables. Many event curators now are starting to understand the worry of disease, and taking many precautions to prevent the spread of pathogens. The last mart I attended personally, all birds that were in the area had been tested only days before by a certified avian veterinarian, and were given a clean bill of health. If they did not vet check well, they were not allowed on the premises. While this is not the case for every event I have attended, it is certainly becoming more the norm.

Be Smart

Don’t let such articles keep you at home, worrying about potential diseases you could bring back to your pet bird. Anytime you enter into a store that carries live stock, go to a friend’s house that has birds, or even attend a bird club meeting, you are entering into a scenario where there would be disease. That doesn’t mean you can’t take proper precautions. Whenever entering into an event, taking the following precautions will help keep your household happy and healthy.

Don’t buy supplies that are unwrapped or cannot be disinfected (eg leather products, edible products) from any source that contains live stock. This goes for stores, educational venues, and marts/shows/etc. Always buy items that are sealed, and/or can be easily disinfected.
If you interact with other animals, be sure to sanitize properly before going and interacting with your animals at home. If going out to an event, wear older clothes that you can change out of upon arriving home. Wash your hands thoroughly before touching your birds.
Wear an old pair of shoes. Its been suggested that a number of pathogens are tracked in on the bottom of shoes. Wear an old pair of shoes to any such event, and remove them before walking into your house.
Play it safe. If you are at an event, ask to see the health certificate of the birds you interact with. Perhaps inquire if there was any required testing for the birds that are on display. When were they tested, and what were they tested for?
Avoid bulk bins
Bird marts, fairs, and other venues can be very educational experiences for bird owners from all walks of life. Taking the proper precautions can help make these events a fun and stress free time.

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Wal-Mart and Healthcare: What Happens When We Focus on the “Average”

Recent legislation enacted by the State of Maryland forces employers with more than 10,000 employees to spend a minimum of 8% on health care. Known as the Wal-Mart law, because Wal-Mart is the only employer in the state directly affected by the law, it seeks to recoup dollars the state contends Wal-Mart is costing their Medicaid fund. Thirty other states are considering similar legislation.

The 8% figure was arrived at because that is the “average” being spent nationally by large corporations.

Throughout the years, Wal-Mart worked very hard at keeping prices low. As an executive with Kmart, I met Wal-Mart executives at many conferences and seminars. With every product they sold their desire was to find a way to increase efficiencies so that they could reduce the cost of every item they sold. Most of the efficiencies were in the distribution channel, however at the same time they were finding ways to keep overhead low. One such way was to keep employee costs down.

The mystique of Wal-Mart and how they grew to be the universe’s largest business, with an economy greater than all but 20 nations, is that Wal-Mart is consistently the lowest priced retailer. This means that from a percentage viewpoint Wal-Mart is spending less on many items including total employee cost, the cause to move merchandise, the cost to transport merchandise, expenditures on real estate, and much more. Once any of those elements changes significantly, Wal-Mart must seek another way to keep prices low or to raise prices.

The latter is what the Wal-Mart attackers are seeking. The two largest groups battling Wal-Mart are comprised of individuals from organizations that have much to gain if employees are unhappy or if Wal-Mart prices were higher. By raising Wal-Mart’s expense on health care Wal-Mart will be distracted by finding other ways to keep their prices low. The hope is they will be unable to do so, making Wal-Mart a less fierce competitor.

Obviously if Wal-Mart is large enough to be Maryland’s only large employer spending less than the average, once they begin to spend the average, the average will go up. To be consistent this would require new legislation to raise the threshold, thus creating a never ending cycle.

The sport of hating Wal-Mart

In some circles, hating Wal-Mart has become a sport. However this overlooks recent studies that have shown the American economy has a lot to be thankful for when it comes to the mega-retailer. The studies show that Wal-Mart has been instrumental in keeping consumer prices low across the board. Certainly Wal-Mart is the low-price leader. When Wal-Mart first enters a town the local mom-and-pop retailers think that they must compete with Wal-Mart on a price basis. This price distraction is the real culprit when it comes to local business failure following the Wal-Mart grand opening.

As with any business strategy if you can recognize your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses you can develop a plan to overcome those strengths and weaknesses. There are many things that Wal-Mart will not do. For example, the need for high volume prevents Wal-Mart from carrying specialty products. Local retailers with the insight to focus on the consumer need Wal-Mart cannot meet are the local retailers that thrive off of the increased traffic created by the low-price discounter.

Why below average is good for sales

There is nothing inherently wrong with seeking to raise “below average” to “average” performance. Sometimes a focus on one “average” may distract an employee or an organization from another “average”, or even an “above average”.

Last year I was coaching a financial planner. His organization noted that not all of their planners were doing their cold calling to find new clients. Their research showed that the average time spent on cold calling was an hour per day. They were also very pleased to learn the number of prospects and hour of cold calling would unveil. Dollar signs pierced their cranium as they thought about the prospects to their agency. Obviously it had to be mandated that every agent spend an hour a day, preferably between 9 and 10 each morning.

In the case of my client this cold call period was a time that he normally was intensely involved in networking. The demand of being in the office to make the cold calls required that he spend his primetime at networking to make cold calls. His talents and personality lent him towards networking. In fact he was excellent at networking. However he struggled with cold calling. Actually “struggled” is too mild a word. He hated cold calling. He came off as cold, scripted, and uncaring. He rarely was able to close a deal when the initial contact was via cold calling.

On the other hand, while networking he was in his comfort zone. He was able to get strong leads and even encourage the lead-givers to introduce them to the prospect. Once he had to take his time away from networking to make cold calls he fell from being one of the top five salespeople in his office to a bottom dweller. Sure his cold calling was now at the average of one hour a day. However it was his networking that put black ink on the bottom line.

The sad part is that the agency thought they had a win-win. The cold call average went up. Because they were focused on the cold calling, they did not realize that his sales had gone down. What they thought was a success was a failure in my client’s eyes. Soon he became discouraged and moved to a different company.

Conclusion

When we focus on the average, we tend to focus on the fact that we are improving below average statistics. We tend to overlook that we are also reducing the performance of our best performers. So it is with every aspect of an organization. We must look at the entire picture. If we do not look at the total personality of our organization, our competitors, and most importantly our people, we will constantly be seeking to drive to the average. If successful we will be just that, average. The bad news is that inter-organizational and interpersonal competition does not allow those that are average to be successful. To succeed one must be above average, particularly in the areas that our customers and employers are most interested.

In the case of Wal-Mart and healthcare, if Wal-Mart spends more on health care than the average, the average will be driven up. Then using the “average” as the barometer, those below average will come up to average creating a never ending spiral. Wal-Mart will not give up their price leadership, making this game of playing averages with healthcare expenditures will result in higher prices for everyone.

Rick Weaver is an accomplished business executive with a wealth of experience in retail, market analysis, supply chain enhancement, project management, team building, and process improvement. Building on a strong retail background, Rick moved to full supply-chain involvement, working with hundreds of companies to improve sales, processes, and bottom-line results.

As Rick’s interaction in varied industries expanded, he became troubled as he increasingly noticed that people and companies had untapped or unfocused talent.

Coupled with Rick’s passion for training and development, popular style of interactive workshops and seminars, and strong desire for continuous improvement, he founded Max Impact Corporation to be singularly focused on helping individuals and organizations achieve high performance.

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Wal-Mart Responsible for Obesity?

Wal-Mart the big box retailer is now being accused of contributing to Obesity, heart disease and diabetes! So say the anti Wal-Mart advocates and it’s a shame that the retail giant has to go on the defense once again to defend its business.

I would not normally defend Wal-Mart as I too sometimes feel that the retail giant has a negative impact on small communities when it comes to competition but to blame our countries problems with Obesity on Wal-Mart is ridiculous.

Let us start with the article that seems to have sparked the fires of a now growing debate. A National Post (Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2011) headlined “Wal-Mart makes communities fat.” That National Post story details a study by two economists that shows when a new Wal-Mart opens in a community, the community gains weight. The National Post had this to say about the study, which was published in the “Journal of Urban Economics”:

“One new Wal-Mart supercentre per 100,000 residents meant an average weight gain of 1.5 pounds per person sometime over a 10-year period dating from the store’s opening. It also boosted the obesity rate by 2.3 percentage points, meaning that for every 100 people, two who weren’t obese ended up in that category after a superstore opened.”

My personal opinion (that and a dime will buy you a cup of coffee) is that there are more reasons for the research numbers being what they are than that of Wal-Mart offering lower prices on the goods that people want and need. There’s really no simple link between Wal-Mart and fat. The extra lift in the numbers may be due to a whole range of reasons, ranging from lower prices for food to a change in buying habits due to influences in advertising and steeper price drops on processed unhealthy foods that can be purchased anywhere.

If we want to start pointing fingers let us look at the many sources of restaurants and fast food franchises who push large portion, fatty, high cholesterol, high sugar and just all around unhealthy foods in the name of convenience and cost.

Our society is obese because we have become lazy and too obsessed with ease and convenience. We want everything now and at the lowest possible cost. We line up at restaurant buffets to pay our $15.00 to eat 37 different selections till our belt buckles explode all the while making comments about the fat people who seem to be piling their plates high and going back 5 or 6 times for more. Yet we fail to notice that we can’t see our toes for the midriff.

Neighborhood design issues are what I suspect play a considerable role in this weight gain issue. As with most big box stores, Wal-Mart is geared towards people driving to the store where years ago we drove into town and walked from store to store. Now days we are able to drive to the discount stores (Wal-Mart, Costco, K-Mart, Target…Long list) to buy loads and loads of cheap stuff that can all be hauled away in the trunk of a car. Many experts have said that having these types of stores pop up in a community can force smaller mom-and-pop shops out of business because they can’t compete on the same scale – thereby leading to less walkable neighborhoods and more driving. Hmmm, more driving, maybe we should blame Wal-Mart for the pollution or the greenhouse effect.

And most people would agree that if you eat cheap processed food while walking less and driving more, you’re likely to get fat.

In any case, the study looked at Wal-Marts and the communities around them between 1996 and 2005. This also happens to be a time frame that we saw a huge jump in fast food franchising including franchises like Krispy Kreme, Fat Burgers, Panago Pizza, Papa John’s Pizza (lots of Pizza franchises).

It just so happens that Wal-Mart has just announced recently in an event attended by first lady Michelle Obama, no less – its plans to “make thousands of its packaged foods lower in unhealthy salts, fats and sugars, and to drop prices on fruits and vegetables.” So maybe all this hype will have a positive spin when it is all said and done.

To conclude I have to get my two cents in and jump up on my soap box. I think it is ridiculous to be blaming big business for the obesity problems our country (and our neighbors….Canada) face. As I mentioned we have become lazy and have lost sight of the need for better health and nutrition. Health insurance has skyrocketed because we all have so many health issues that are tied to our weight and a lack of exercise.

Back in the sixties the president established the “President’s Council on Fitness” and it was part of our schools health program to meet a certain health standard on fitness. We had to be able to run, jump, do pull-ups and a variety of physical programs. Our school lunchrooms did not have soda and candy machines. Each school had a dietitian who had to meet a certain dietary standard for each meal. They might not have been the best tasting at the time but they were real meals with all the food groups. The school system also required physical exercise. You had to have an act of congress to get out of gym or lunch period recess. I won’t go into why we don’t have these requirements anymore as that is subject for another article.

We need to put the blame right where it belongs and that is on ourselves. We need to take an active role in ours and our family’s health. We need to take the time to make meals at home that are well balanced and nutritional. This allows us to spend more quality time with our family as well. We need to get more active and make exercise a part of our busy lives and not as an afterthought to getting off the weight scale. Stop blaming everyone else for not taking responsibility for your own health.

OK, I’ve said my piece and I guess I should get off the soap box, but I must add that it is important that we get our health in order as it will make a big difference not just in our own lives but it will help our economy too as it will lower health insurance costs due to heart disease, diabetes, stroke, vascular disease and many other obesity related problems.

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Wal-Mart – Target of Health Insurance Legislation

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the nation’s and world’s largest retailer, is quickly becoming Florida’s largest retailer. The chain opened 50 of its 24-hour Supercenters throughout the state during 2002 and 2003, and there are nine Wal-Mart stores in Pinellas County- two Sam’s Clubs, three Supercenters and four regular Wal-Marts.

It is also among the state’s largest private employers, with 77,850 employees-far more than the 54,000 employed at Walt Disney World. According to Wal-Mart’s media relations hotline, there are 3,407 people employed by Wal-Mart in Pinellas County.

With these large employee rosters come high costs. Wages, overtime, benefits, taxes and other expenses make staffing and its related costs the biggest expense for almost all employers. When a company is big enough to employ tens of thousands of people, methods for cutting costs are an issue management visits daily.

Often management reduces employee benefits-namely health insurance-as a way to keep costs down, and until recently this practice was met with little resistance. But this month legislative action in both Maryland and Pennsylvania took exception to this practice. And lawmakers in 28 other states, including Florida, Connecticut, Kansas, Colorado and Tennessee, are preparing to introduce similar legislation. The face of cost savings at the biggest employers-and specifically Wal-Mart-may never be the same.

On Jan. 12 the Maryland Senate voted to override a governor veto of a bill requiring companies with more than 10,000 employees to pay for some health-care benefits. Dubbed the “Wal-Mart Bill,” the legislation is aimed squarely at the retail giant. It is already having a negative effect, as Wal-Mart’s shares had their biggest decline in a month, closing lower by 83 cents, soon after the vote.

Spurred into action by the AFL-CIO, which represent over nine million workers, states are beginning to recognize that healthcare costs must be paid by someone. And if it’s not employers, the burden often falls on the state. “The bottom line is that our health care system is broken-but it didn’t just split open. Big companies like Wal-Mart are pulling it apart and profiting at taxpayers’ expense,” says John Sweeney, president of the AFL- CIO.

Florida state Rep. Susan Bucher, D-Lantana, has filed a version of the health care proposal for the spring legislative session. It closely resembles the Maryland measure. Of Wal-Mart’s costs to taxpayers she says “It might be tempting to dismiss this issue as a larger one of corporate welfare, or to argue that we’re singling out Wal-Mart unfairly. But facts are facts: Wal-Mart does not just shift health-care costs onto taxpayers, it does so at a level well beyond that of any other employer.”

This legislation, if enacted, would apply to private employers with 10,000 or more employees. These companies would be required to spend at least 8% of total payroll on employee health care or pay the difference into a state-administered fund created to assist the uninsured.

Legislation like this is a direct response to the numbers of people on Medicaid. In Florida alone, an estimated 12,300 of Wal-Mart’s 91,000 employees relied on Medicaid for health care coverage in 2004. Wal- Mart’s position is that it has more employees on Medicaid simply because it is the state’s largest employer.

Clearly alarmed by these legislative actions, Wal-Mart has lowered its monthly health insurance premiums-some as low as $11 a month-so that more entry level employees can afford its company health care insurance.

Wal-Mart executives are denouncing the campaign, saying the company provides health insurance to nearly half of its employees. Sarah Clark, Wal-Mart Spokesperson, says “More than three-fourths of Wal-Mart associates have health insurance.”

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Shoe Repairs And Several Other Things When I Was 7

Shoe Repairs And Several Other Things When I Was 7
My Dad repaired most of our shoes believe it or not, I can hardly believe it myself now. With 7 pairs of shoes always needing repairs I think he was quite clever to learn how to “Keep us in shoe Leather” to coin a phrase!

He bought several different sizes of cast iron cobbler’s “lasts”. Last, the old English “Laest” meaning footprint. Lasts were holding devices shaped like a human foot. I have no idea where he would have bought the shoe leather. Only that it was a beautiful creamy, shiny colour and the smell was lovely.

But I do remember our shoes turned upside down on and fitted into these lasts, my Dad cutting the leather around the shape of the shoe, and then hammering nails, into the leather shape. Sometimes we’d feel one or 2 of those nails poking through the insides of our shoes, but our dad always fixed it.

Hiking and Swimming Galas
Dad was a very outdoorsy type, unlike my mother, who was probably too busy indoors. She also enjoyed the peace and quiet when he took us off for the day!

Anyway, he often took us hiking in the mountains where we’d have a picnic of sandwiches and flasks of tea. And more often than not we went by steam train.

We loved poking our heads out of the window until our eyes hurt like mad from a blast of soot blowing back from the engine. But sore, bloodshot eyes never dampened our enthusiasm.

Dad was an avid swimmer and water polo player, and he used to take us to swimming galas, as they were called back then. He often took part in these galas. And again we always travelled by steam train.

Rowing Over To Ireland’s Eye
That’s what we did back then, we had to go by rowboat, the only way to get to Ireland’s eye, which is 15 minutes from mainland Howth. From there we could see Malahide, Lambay Island and Howth Head of course. These days you can take a Round Trip Cruise on a small cruise ship!

But we thoroughly enjoyed rowing and once there we couldn’t wait to climb the rocks, and have a swim. We picnicked and watched the friendly seals doing their thing and showing off.

Not to mention all kinds of birdlife including the Puffin.The Martello Tower was also interesting but a bit dangerous to attempt entering. I’m getting lost in the past as I write, and have to drag myself back to the present.

Fun Outings with The camera Club
Dad was also a very keen amateur photographer, and was a member of a camera Club. There were many Sunday photography outings and along with us came other kids of the members of the club.

And we always had great fun while the adults busied themselves taking photos of everything and anything, it seemed to us. Dad was so serious about his photography that he set up a dark room where he developed and printed his photographs.

All black and white at the time. He and his camera club entered many of their favourites in exhibitions throughout Europe. I’m quite proud to say that many cups and medals were won by Dad. They have been shared amongst all his grandchildren which I find quite special.

He liked taking portraits of us kids too, mostly when we were in a state of untidiness, usually during play. Dad always preferred the natural look of messy hair and clothes in the photos of his children.

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What Are The Greatest Changes In Shopping In Your Lifetime

What are the greatest changes in shopping in your lifetime? So asked my 9 year old grandson.

As I thought of the question the local Green Grocer came to mind. Because that is what the greatest change in shopping in my lifetime is.

That was the first place to start with the question of what are the greatest changes in shopping in your lifetime.

Our local green grocer was the most important change in shopping in my lifetime. Beside him was our butcher, a hairdresser and a chemist.

Looking back, we were well catered for as we had quite a few in our suburb. And yes, the greatest changes in shopping in my lifetime were with the small family owned businesses.

Entertainment While Shopping Has Changed
Buying butter was an entertainment in itself.
My sister and I often had to go to a favourite family grocer close by. We were always polite as we asked for a pound or two of butter and other small items.

Out came a big block of wet butter wrapped in grease-proof paper. Brought from the back of the shop, placed on a huge counter top and included two grooved pates.

That was a big change in our shopping in my lifetime… you don’t come across butter bashing nowadays.

Our old friendly Mr. Mahon with the moustache, would cut a square of butter. Lift it to another piece of greaseproof paper with his pates. On it went to the weighing scales, a bit sliced off or added here and there.

Our old grocer would then bash it with gusto, turning it over and over. Upside down and sideways it went, so that it had grooves from the pates, splashes going everywhere, including our faces.

My sister and I thought this was great fun and it always cracked us up. We loved it, as we loved Mahon’s, on the corner, our very favourite grocery shop.

Grocery Shopping
Further afield, we often had to go to another of my mother’s favourite, not so local, green grocer’s. Mr. McKessie, ( spelt phonetically) would take our list, gather the groceries and put them all in a big cardboard box.

And because we were good customers he always delivered them to our house free of charge. But he wasn’t nearly as much fun as old Mr. Mahon. Even so, he was a nice man.

All Things Fresh
So there were very many common services such as home deliveries like:

• Farm eggs

• Fresh vegetables

• Cow’s milk

• Freshly baked bread

• Coal for our open fires

Delivery Services
A man used to come to our house a couple of times a week with farm fresh eggs.

Another used to come every day with fresh vegetables, although my father loved growing his own.

Our milk, topped with beautiful cream, was delivered to our doorstep every single morning.

Unbelievably, come think of it now, our bread came to us in a huge van driven by our “bread-man” named Jerry who became a family friend.

My parents always invited Jerry and his wife to their parties, and there were many during the summer months. Kids and adults all thoroughly enjoyed these times. Alcohol was never included, my parents were teetotallers. Lemonade was a treat, with home made sandwiches and cakes.

The coal-man was another who delivered bags of coal for our open fires. I can still see his sooty face under his tweed cap but I can’t remember his name. We knew them all by name but most of them escape me now.

Mr. Higgins, a service man from the Hoover Company always came to our house to replace our old vacuum cleaner with an updated model.

Our insurance company even sent a man to collect the weekly premium.

People then only paid for their shopping with cash. This in itself has been a huge change in shopping in my lifetime.

In some department stores there was a system whereby the money from the cash registers was transported in a small cylinder on a moving wire track to the central office.

Some Of The Bigger Changes
Some of the bigger changes in shopping were the opening of supermarkets.

• Supermarkets replaced many individual smaller grocery shops. Cash and bank cheques have given way to credit and key cards.

• Internet shopping… the latest trend, but in many minds, doing more harm, to book shops.

• Not many written shopping lists, because mobile phones have taken over.

On a more optimistic note, I hear that book shops are popular again after a decline.

Personal Service Has Most Definitely Changed
So, no one really has to leave home, to purchase almost anything, technology makes it so easy to do online.
And we have a much bigger range of products now, to choose from, and credit cards have given us the greatest ease of payment.

We have longer shopping hours, and weekend shopping. But we have lost the personal service that we oldies had taken for granted and also appreciated.

Because of their frenetic lifestyles, I have heard people say they find shopping very stressful, that is grocery shopping. I’m sure it is when you have to dash home and cook dinner after a days work. I often think there has to be a better, less stressful way.

My mother had the best of both worlds, in the services she had at her disposal. With a full time job looking after 9 people, 7 children plus her and my dad, she was very lucky. Lucky too that she did not have 2 jobs.

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What We Have Here Is A Failure To Communicate

The results of this past election proved once again that the Democrats had a golden opportunity to capitalize on the failings of the Trump Presidency but, fell short of a nation wide mandate. A mandate to seize the gauntlet of the progressive movement that Senator Sanders through down a little over four years ago. The opportunities were there from the very beginning even before this pandemic struck. In their failing to educate the public of the consequences of continued Congressional gridlock, conservatism, and what National Economic Reform’s Ten Articles of Confederation would do led to the results that are playing out today.. More Congressional gridlock, more conservatism and more suffering of millions of Americans are the direct consequences of the Democrats failure to communicate and educate the public. Educate the public that a progressive agenda is necessary to pull the United States out of this Pandemic, and restore this nations health and vitality.

It was the DNC’s intent in this election to only focus on the Trump Administration. They failed to grasp the urgency of the times. They also failed to communicate with the public about the dire conditions millions have been and still are facing even before the Pandemic. The billions of dollars funneled into campaign coffers should have been used to educate the voting public that creating a unified coalition would bring sweeping reforms that are so desperately needed. The reality of what transpired in a year and a half of political campaigning those billions of dollars only created more animosity and division polarizing one extreme over another.

One can remember back in 1992 Ross Perot used his own funds to go on national TV to educate the public on the dire ramifications of not addressing our national debt. That same approach should have been used during this election cycle. By using the medium of television to communicate and educate the public is the most effective way in communicating and educating the public. Had the Biden campaign and the DNC used their resources in this way the results we ae seeing today would have not created the potential for more gridlock in our government. The opportunity was there to educate the public of safety protocols during the siege of this pandemic and how National Economic Reform’s Ten Articles of Confederation provides the necessary progressive reforms that will propel the United States out of the abyss of debt and restore our economy. Restoring our economy so that every American will have the means and the availability of financial and economic security.

The failure of the Democratic party since 2016 has been recruiting a Presidential Candidate who many felt was questionable and more conservative signals that the results of today has not met with the desired results the Democratic party wanted. Then again? By not fully communicating and not educating the public on the merits of a unified progressive platform has left the United States transfixed in our greatest divides since the Civil War. This writers support of Senator Bernie Sanders is well documented. Since 2015 he has laid the groundwork for progressive reforms. He also has the foundations on which these reforms can deliver the goods as they say. But, what did the DNC do, they purposely went out of their way to engineer a candidate who was more in tune with the status-quo of the DNC. They failed to communicate to the public in educating all of us on the ways our lives would be better served with a progressive agenda that was the benchmark of Senators Sanders Presidential campaign and his Our Revolution movement. And this is way there is still really no progress in creating a less toxic environment in Washington and around the country.

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