Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Halloween: Too Ghoulish For My Tastes

Growing up in the late 1950s-early 1960s, Halloween was a holiday where we dressed up in costumes and walked house to house collecting candy. Our costumes were simple – a sheet for a ghost, a homemade paper crown with a dress for a princess, or even one of those awful preformed plastic masks with eye holes that one could barely see out. Most homes had a pumpkin on their front step, and many families made it an event to carve its face. In our house, we saved the pumpkins seeds and toasted them in the oven and, with a little sprinkle of salt, we had a great snack. We would come home with our bag full of small candies that our parents would check over before we ate.

Those days are long gone, and now Halloween is a multi-billion dollar business – and very dark and ghoulish. In fact, the holiday seems more important to adults than it does to kids.

The National Retail Federation says this about Halloween in 2011: Ghouls and goblins galore, Halloween celebrations will be BOOming this year as more people than ever are expected to partake in traditional festivities. According to NRF’s 2011 Halloween Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey conducted by BIGresearch, seven in 10 Americans (68.6%) plan to celebrate Halloween, up from 63.8 percent last year and the most in NRF’s 10-year survey history. Those celebrating are expected to spend slightly more too; the average person will shell out $72.31 on decorations, costumes and candy, up from $66.28 last year. Total Halloween spending is expected to reach $6.86 billion.”

I have no problem with Halloween for the most part. I buy several bags of candy for the less than handful of children that come to my house that night. I admit I’m happy when we don’t get a lot of visitors, because then I can snack on that delicious chocolate candy over the following weeks. What I don’t like about Halloween is the increasing trend with the overly ghoulish and gory tone that the holiday has taken over the years. It seems that adults have hijacked a children's holiday and turned it into a day to honor the most gross and disgusting things imaginable. Maybe it’s because I’ve never been a fan of the horror genre, but it doesn’t seem like fun to me to visit one of those Halloween haunted houses and have people dressed in gory costumes try to scare the wits out of me.

It may be my wish for the simpler days of being a child, but I think it’s more that I don’t get the fascination that some people have with things so dark and disturbing. But, to each his/her own, I guess. As long as I have an excuse to buy tons of chocolate candy for the holiday, I’m happy!

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Airline Fees Confound on Purpose; Just Raise Rates Already!

Air travelers are getting hammered by the airlines with every sort of added fee that one can imagine. Extra fees for baggage, extra fees for changing your ticket, fees to use pillows, blankets, food…the list goes on. It’s nearly impossible for anyone to determine the best rate for any trip via airline.

That’s the idea.

Airlines use the excuse that they need to add these fees to be profitable. In my opinion, that has little to do with it. If maintaining profitability was the reason for the added fees,  wouldn't it be easier for the airlines to just raise rates to achieve the desired profit margin and quote an all-encompassing amount including a basic list of services? But no, they don’t want to do that. It would make it too easy for anyone to compare airlines and see who had the best fare for any given trip.

The airlines must think that consumers are stupid and don’t notice their air fare sleight of hand. And maybe some people ARE stupid, because many continue to fly and fall victim to the airlines charging them extra for every little thing.

All the airlines should offer a tiered rate system, so anyone can generate a price for their air travel based on their needs. It would be helpful to have a simple program which builds a rate based on the destination, plus number of carry-ons and/or suitcases, and amenities needed. The airlines can charge whatever they want for any segment, but there should be a bottom line price that a person can compare to other airlines.

I wouldn’t hold my breath for the airlines to come together to make any sense of this. After all, it’s in their advantage to continue to confound travelers.

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Thursday, September 8, 2011

The 2012 Presidential Election: Is It Over Yet?

It’s over a year away but I’m already tired of the 2012 Presidential election. The mudslinging was already in progress and now with last night’s Republican debate on MSNBC, the Republican candidates have started sniping at each other.

It’s tiresome…and it’s just started. I hope for the day that politicians can spend more time on actually fixing the problems that face the American people, not on trying to move up in the political world. Who knows, maybe the politician who actually gets things done wouldn’t need to spend so much time – or money – on campaigning if their results stood for themselves?

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