A Tale of Two European Stores

A voice says, “Cry out!”
    And I said, “What shall I cry?”
All people are grass,
    their constancy is like the flower of the field.
 The grass withers, the flower fades,
    when the breath of the Lord blows upon it;
    surely the people are grass.
 The grass withers, the flower fades;
    but the word of our God will stand forever.
(Isaiah 40:6-8, NRSV)

Anyone near Philly remember the French store Carrefour? It had only two locations in the US, quite nearby each other both closed in 1994: Franklin Mills Mall (now Philadelphia Mills, started 1988), and Voorhees (a New Jersey* suburb of Philadelphia, launched 1992). Since its US demise occurred when I was only six or so, I don’t remember much of the store, except a few bits-and-pieces.  (Source: Embarrassingly enough, LOL, Wikipedia)

 
On the other hand, another foreign store that is wildly popular among Americans (and most likely here to stay): Sweden’s IKEA. It not only offers Scandinavian-style furniture, but offers a great cafeteria offering Swedish cuisine, including their world-famous Swedish meatballs. (Some people think their food is “doctored up,” especially people who bear Swedish descent). But who am I to speak for the Swedes? I’ve never been there! Anyway, they sell products from Sweden (and perhaps elsewhere in Scandinavia), and perhaps from kid’s tastes (or even an ultra-American adult taste, LOL), a “bistro.”
 
So Dolores (Dee) would you opt for the bistro, or the cafeteria? (I hope the latter).
 
This may be a pain sometimes, yet it may be a true blessing to speakers of languages other than Swedish. Instructions for building IKEA furniture are strictly pictorial, for they must be globally standardized.

Incidentally, building an IKEA project could be a great task for a person with high-functioning autism, who happens to be non-verbal.  But watch out!  If done in a sheltered workshop, not only might it embarrass “co-workers,” but they could get a competitive (“real”) job!  Now that’s innovation!

Also, while they do set jobs overseas, and thus it is rare to see “Made in Sweden” for an IKEA product, this really doesn’t matter, because they are willing to export worldwide!  With most likely little to owe anyone.  The US, on the other hand, only wants to import.  Maybe that caused the American demise of Carrefour, because all these French goods may have been unattractive to us (think escargot, LOL), or simply the fact that France and the US just tend not to see eye to eye.  But that’s ancient history.  If stores were a boxing or wrestling match, the competitors, in this case, IKEA and Carrefour, the latter would get lots of KO’s.  Carrefour still thrives, however, in many other countries.

But, as they say, all good things shall come to an end.  After all, IKEA didn’t expect to be this good in the USA.  They thought, “why share it with the country that has everything.”   Carrefour didn’t share that success in the US.  But who knows?  You could have too much of this good thing (namely, Swedish furniture), that is, once our country can’t stand it (not only mentally, but perhaps physically!)

Three words that are the heart and soul of economics:

Supply and demand!
*International (and some domestic) readers:  New Jersey is a separate state from Pennsylvania, which is where Philadelphia is located.  However, Pennsylvania (including Philadelphia) borders New Jersey on its east side, by the Delaware River, making much of New Jersey a suburban area to Philadelphia, together with its Pennsylvania suburbs to the west.  Alas, concerning these bridges, you have to pay tolls to cross over the river, at least in one direction.
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Testimony: Three Dilemmas, All Handled by Faith

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.  (John 10:10, ESV)

We’re going to discuss three issues I faced this morning and that a man of faith like me can handle, of course, with patience.  Unbelievers are stuck with their reasoning power, and while God imparted to all persons (Christians and otherwise), Christians have the power of faith, which goes beyond reason to solve much more profound problems that mere reasoning cannot.

  1. Missing wallet
    All this time it was under the bed, within the past few days.
  2. Could not turn on my computer with Apple password, which I have forgotten since I seldom use it.
    I called Apple, after I asked my mother what their phone number.  Upon getting to obtaining the serial number, I talked to tech support, and worked my way through the procedure.  I now have a new password for turning on my computer.  Hooray!
  3. Lack of olive oil
    Of secondary importance to breakfast, but essential for many omelets and other cooking ideas.  While I was busted, a friend brought me to a local convenience store, and bought it for me.

You can see in this testimony, “God’s sovereignty, man’s responsibility,” a central doctrine of Reformed theology (“Calvinism”), the Protestant theological tradition I belong to.  While we trust God’s is sovereign over all events of history, man is still responsible for those very deeds, that is, those which are within his control.  So despite loads of criticism (and I’m not trying to convert you to such belief), Reformed Christian doctrine, in my humble opinion,  is one of the most God-glorifying, man-humbling, and indeed beautiful expressions of Christian faith.

But in any faith tradition, always be thankful for what God does for his “sheep” (i.e., Christian believers). and to give more abundant life on earth, as well as eternity with him.

Science and Scripture Don’t (Typically) Mix

Some verses, aside from the creation narrative(s), are quite unscientific.

I give three key examples here

1) John 3:8 — Jesus’ discussion with Nicodemus about the new birth included Jesus’ statement that the wind direction cannot be detected. Yes it can, thanks to meteorology! But that didn’t exist then!

His message is that you can’t always tell the people who are saved.

2) Isa 55:10,11 – This verse suggests that rain comes down ONLY to water the plants. Well, consider the ecological concept of the water cycle and some botany. In addition to evaporation from land and bodies of water, the air moistens due to another process called transpiration, wherein the stomata (pores) in leaves open to cool it, albeit perhaps at the expense of photosynthetic efficiency. Together, all evaporative processes are thus known as evapotranspiration, and has its sharpest effects in arid conditions.

All Isaiah said, living long before this science was known, in the next verse was that God’s word will do its will.

3) 1 Cor 15:36, 37 – Paul says that seeds must “die” to germinate. Well, they may be dormant, but the actual pending plant (the embryo), needs water, as well as food storages in its cotyledons (aka “seed leaves”). Once the seed does germinate, the cotyledons are the jump-starter before the plant starts to truly photosynthesize, and thereupon the cotyledons wither.

Paul is discussing resurrection of the body, not botanical principles.

These are just three of many unscientific points in Scripture that should corroborate its true purpose. Only some may be strongly interested in science, but all people need to know Scripture. AMEN

An Encouraging Word for Aging Minds

Disclaimer:  Information only.  Not medical advice.  Check with your doctor for more on this.

Like all people leaving their 20s, the monitoring of their health — in all aspects — is paramount.  And it will continue to be such for life, not to mention more so.  WebMD said (in a quiz on the site) that memory in different forms declines in the late 20s!  This is a wakeup call for me, already 29 years old.

This evening, in my beloved Britannica set, I decided to investigate aging and its impact on memory.  While the set is quite dated (1981) and research has increased since then, the article said, overall, the primary aspects affected are short-term memory and response timing.  On the other hand, cognitive decline is trivial concerning skills, facts, and vocabulary.

In other words, the aged actually learn just as well as younger adults.  Here’s the catch.  They tend to learn the material more slowly.

This provides some good news here, in case a senior citizen wants to learn something. But a younger person should teach it slowly, so the elder will retain it well.  In other words, go easy on them!  Don’t pressure them too much.

Also, while there are exceptions, the rule of thumb is that people in their, say, 30s, tend to make major contributions in science, math, etc. more often that 60-somethings.  This rule of thumb is reverse for religious, political, and administrative personalities, wherein experience is the principal factor.

And, despite their tendency to “keep to themselves,” due primarily to past experience, older adults are happiest when accompanied by those younger than them, and would rather stay in their communities rather than in institutions for seniors (e.g. nursing homes and assisted living facilities).  Good income and health contribute as well.

Of course, there’s Alzheimer’s and similar dementia disorders, but they are beyond the scope of this post.  This is focused chiefly on the brain power overall aged population.

Keep in mind that as one reaches the end, while learning is lifelong by nature, it becomes less and less important, namely concerning applications of such.  In another post sometime, I would like to discuss learning theories.  But this will suffice for now.

But again, like many others, age is what it is — a number.

Source:  Encyclopedia Britannica, 1981, v. 1 (Macropedia)

Will American TV’s Big Three (or Four) Face Extinction Several Years from Now?

Networks

Whether you are mostly a fan of the Alphabet, the Peacock, or the Eye, referring to, respectively, the US networks of ABC, NBC, and CBS, let me tell you, in ten or 20 years they most likely will no longer be the leaders, if they are even alive at all.  The same fate for Fox, which after 30 years or so, still hasn’t quite matured as the Big Three have.  Despite having sports for many years, their primetime is only 2 hours, and there is no 6:30 pm newscast to compete with the other Big Three’s national news programs.  And just like foxes, the company that owned Fox was sly enough to create an entire cable network over 20 years ago.  As to quality, well, let’s just say it reports outside the typical pale of the media.

People would rather go to Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and countless other platforms that present movies, shows, etc. (typically exclusive to a given service), come through the internet.  But this wastes a lot of moolah, because to get a full range of entertainment, I would recommend a digital cable, satellite, or similar service to get the potential for one to watch more.  Even if you don’t frequent key cable channels, they’re there for you, lest you want to watch one of their programs.

Even PBS has a rival of sorts now:  Curiosity Stream.  Yet, just like the other online TV platforms, this online TV service is of course, for profit.  Takes the “public” out of “Public Broadcasting Service,” doesn’t it?  LOL

At the other extreme, still others “cut the cord.”  They stick to the tradition of the airwaves, with some bonuses:  namely, a number of specialists in certain areas like movies, classic TV, etc., in addition to the master networks.  (read: the Big 3 or 4)  While it is not a clone of cable, it has some interesting programs that could be competent enough.  In a sense, it could be called “the poor man’s cable.”  And all you need to access the treasures thereof is a digital TV and antenna, or an analog TV with a “converter box,” as a “middleman” to re-process the signals into an analog format.  Even though analog TVs are no longer on the market (they left it in 2009 due to government order), they are able to attach directly to connections through non-broadcast TV systems, including cable, satellite, and others.

Whatever quality or quantity of television you watch, be a smart buyer.  That’s it in a nutshell, the decision is yours.

The Chicken “Raw-volution”

Obviously, no meat comes cooked (or frozen) from the start.  Neither should it be.  Barber Foods (as in the picture) and other companies make amazing stuffed chicken meals, containing such delicious fillings such as cordon bleu, Kiev, broccoli & cheese, and yum…Crème Brie with apples and cranberries.

stuffed-chicken
Mmmm…heaven on a plate.  The dessert of chicken.

They typically come boxed in pairs.  But these aren’t Hot Pockets. They are, in a word, raw.  Don’t dare nuking these, or you’ll be sick as a dog.  They take roughly about 30 to 45 minutes in your conventional oven.  But there’s no denying that the wait is worth it.  As always, patience is, decidedly, a virtue.

Check your grocer’s freezer today!

Race for the Bachelor’s

So, as we have just entered May, I am hoping to be accepted by West Chester U.  However, while I am a step away from admission, we still need one factor to be settled.  And it’s quite goofy.

Goofy, you may think.  Yes, this is due to an incident at a community college 5 years ago (2012).  I won’t describe it, but it could put some restrictions (if not a total ban of admission) on me at West Chester U, despite it being well past.  By the way, that very same behavior did not truly cause expulsion from the community college, but an odd “permanent suspension” from the campuses.  So while I couldn’t physically attend the classrooms, I did manage to complete an online course.

Thus, to get this issue settled, which apparently may seem trivial due to great progress in coping with issues and not using assaults to communicate (especially by putting an end to a 13-year series of assaults earlier this year, which started in high school), I must defend my eligibility at an interview at the university.  If not, I could go elsewhere.

But Here’s the Catch…

As a product of the special education system, due to my mild autism and the behaviors that came forth through that, I had little college-preparation.  All throughout middle and high school, I did little homework and similar academic activities (and the stuff I did was far less challenging than a true college-prep high school student).

Later, when I started attending that very community college mentioned above, I never finished a semester with any more than one course complete.  At a later community college, I successfully completed no more than two per semester.

So, is the prospect of a bachelor’s impossible?  Well, I’ll see.  I will probably change my proposed full-time status (12+ credits, roughly 4 courses) to one that is part-time (11 or lower).  Then I can ease my way into the Biology curriculum, especially since I already have 33 credits down (and thus a sophomore status).  Their contribution to my college progress depends on where they fit into the curriculum.

And a Brief Addendum…

Eureka!  I know why I hardly ever completed reading a textbook without an instructor.  While I have looked at textbooks for just the enjoyment of it, time and time again, they have always backfired.  A textbook is chock full of facts, and unless you don’t have a professor as your compass, you will (metaphorically) drown in that factual sea!  Personal reading of textbooks is a sink-or-swim deal, for you won’t know what facts are important and what are not.  In fact, in most courses, I understood why certain things in their corresponding texts didn’t matter so much, not to mention some information that was included in the lectures had relevance.  It’s also a matter of your school’s curriculum in a given area, as well as its strength at it.

So I’ll probably stick to more “popular press” stuff for now, especially for things outside my prospective major (namely, biology).

“Reading textbooks for fun”…nothing but an oxymoron.