Clearance really? How crass the post-holiday marketplace! Wednesday, Dec 30 2015 

Utterly and shamelessly crass, yes: Every consumer knows it.

But who can resist its allure?  Especially in the post-holiday season of clearance and close-out sales?

Few can resist, of course.  Even a calloused un-shopper like me occasionally succumbs to the excitement struck by endless rows of racks, counters, and shelves plastered with signs exclaiming  “CLEARANCE!”

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Hark! The herald clearance signs proclaim “Spend!”

So how smart was my clearance shopping venture yesterday?  I brought home four pieces of snazzy athletic wear, for which I paid an average of $9.99 each.

(Time out: Whatever is the psycho-magic of $9.99 as a sale price?  An entire penny less than $10—-What savings!)

All four pieces showed their original retail value, ranging from 32.50 to 49.95.   The full retail value of the purchase in an earlier pre-discount season, in other words, was about $150.  I paid less than a third of that amount!

So who’s the smarter at the end of the day?  The retailer captured pennies on the retail dollar by persuading me to hand over forty-something dollars for four pieces of clothing that I don’t need. On the surface, I saved about $90!  But truthfully, neither my happiness nor my want, much less my need, depends on my having those goods.

I am sure the retailer is pleased to have my forty-something dollars in exchange for my taking those items off of the store’s cumbersome, post-season inventory.  But if I “saved” $90, does the retailer feel like he “lost” $90?

I doubt it.  If I saved $90, my bank account balance shows $45 less.  And if the retailer lost $90, his ledger is also $45 better off as he profits from the $45 cash flow garnered by my visit to his clearance sale.

Yep, the year-end clearance sale is free enterprise at its zaniest perfection.  Whether it’s win-win or lose-lose for consumers or retailers hardly matters.  I kind of think its both.

 

Brown Christmas Friday, Dec 25 2015 

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Daze and daze of mud unending?

I grew up  on the Gulf Coast.  All my life, I have seen mildew-dripping fog and humidity thick enough to drink.  But this season’s muggy spell is off the chart for both degree and duration.  As we sit weather-logged inside, beset by thundery showers and misty fog  for the fifth consecutive day, noting that each day progressively  waxed more miserable than the day before, we sarcastically consider Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” as a cruel cliche.  So how about a parody appropriate for the day?

With the tree tops dripping
and rain squalls whipping
We have to wade out through the mud.

We’re dreaming of a brown Christmas
Worse than the ones we always knew.
As the day feels dreary and down
So will all this Christmas day be brown.

Humble Rewards of the Profession: “My turn to teach! Saturday, Dec 19 2015 

LSU-Alexandria celebrated commencement yesterday.  One of my former  online English 1002 students, Lauren, graduated with a degree in education.  She’s going to teach, and I’m proud.  I wish I could  count the number of my former students who have grown up to enter the profession.

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Lauren’s graduation FaceBook pix included this proud declaration.  I welcome another former student to the craft and the calling!

Lauren did college the non-traditional way,  so I respect her achievement all the more.  She was beyond traditional college age and married with family responsibilities when she started.   For whatever reason, she didn’t go to college straight out of high school.  Maybe the opportunity wasn’t there, perhaps she didn’t believe in herself at that stage of her life, or maybe those around her didn’t believe.

No matter.  One of the rewards of my teaching career at LSUE over the years was running into those adult students, the ones the system or society overlooked for promise and potential.  But however their starts in higher ed were delayed or denied, once they got their break, they seized opportunity with two tight fists, as if they had something to prove.

I loved teaching those students, and so I loved teaching Lauren.  Best of all,  I’m proud she’s becoming a teacher!

May God bless the calling placed on her life, for  teaching is a holy craft!

Victorian Daze in English I Wednesday, Dec 16 2015 

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15 year olds don’t mind using back-packs for pillows to recline on the cold, hard floor to watch George C. Scott as Scrooge.

One of the highlights of early years in my teaching career  was teaching Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol each December in English I.  After 18 years teaching freshman comp. in college, I relived that early high school experience this year for the first time in 20 years when I last read Dickens with ninth graders at Lafayette High in 1994 or 1995.

Better yet 20 years later in this career’s rebirth: the Internet and a Promethean Board.  And George C. Scott’s 1984 film rendition of Scrooge that’s right there on YouTube for all the world to see (and download for free).

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The 1984 film version is tops.

So after wading through the text last week, and succumbing to my Freshmen’s demands—-“We want to see the movie!”—-we spent parts of three class periods this week viewing the movie.  I was surprised at how attentively they watched and listened!

That 1984 standard definition film to them must have the same visual impact on them as the black and white classic film I grew up with.  But what that tells me is encouraging: Dickens’ story is timeless!  Standard def, high def, color or B&W: the heart-warming tale won’t be captivated by medium or mode of delivery.

The spirit of Christmas endures!

And so, Tiny Tim’s closing echoes across the ages:  “God bless us all, every one!”

 

Hush the noise, men of strife! Thursday, Dec 10 2015 

My favorite line of Christmas verse comes from Edward Sears’s fourth stanza of “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear.”  Sears wrote, “Hush the noise, ye men of strife, and hear the angels sing!”

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But, ouch!  I am a man of strife!  By volition or by circumstance, strife is the lot of man and his travail below.  I feel it every time I turn on the news!
So in the contentious climate of this terror-ridden age, when the 10:00 news would fill our ears with the tumultuous racket of men of strife, may we summon the resolve to tune out the noisy discord and tune in the angelic proclamation.  Its ringing has persisted since the shepherds first heard its peaceful promise, if we will but hush to hear to the hopeful strains.

Christmas: The Extended Definition Wednesday, Dec 2 2015 

After Thanksgiving holiday, English classes composed extended definitions of the abstract noun Christmas following the pattern of St. Paul’s extended definition of love in I Corinthians 13.  I wrote along with them.  Here’s my extended definition.Photo on 12-8-15 at 7.34 PM.png

Christmas Defined

If I buy extravagant gifts to impress my friends and family but do not have Christmas, I am an ostentatious hypocrite with an impoverished spirit.  And if I have the applause of men and wealth beyond imagination; if I have all that secular culture yearns for but do not have Christmas, I am nothing.  If I donate groceries to the food bank, and if I drop large bills into the Salvation Army’s collection pot outside of Wal-Mart but do not have Christmas, I gain nothing.

Christmas is soft, Christmas is holy.  It is not loud, it is not vain, it is not worldly. It is not pretentious, it does not promote itself in the marketplace, it is not crass, it does not abide in wreaths of fir and holly.

It does not rejoice over the showiness of men but rejoices with humble shepherds bowing in rapt reverence before the baby Lamb of God.  It envelops all truth, gives hope to all mankind, breathes life into amazing grace, spreads salvation to the ends of the earth.

Christmas never fails!

Country Roads, Acadiana: Thanksgiving on the Bayou Tuesday, Dec 1 2015 

12314644_10207804508692060_3815001409144262202_oThe circle of Thanksgiving family and friends gathers after the feast amid robust tales, gregarious laughter, good nature unending, Louisiana accents abounding.

This is one unique State we’re in!

Merci Bon Dieu pour un jour de remerciment!