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 If you want genuine knowledge about marketing and sales do not as the management of Harding's, at any level (a regional grocery store in southwestern Michigan, for all you out-of-staters). There seems to be a complete lack of collective, conventional wisdom on the subjects. I am not saying that these grocery stores are fun by simpletons - I am just saying that these stores are run by marketing-'n'-sales simpletons who need a lot of time and attempts before they seem to get the hang of the subjects.

Harding's, as a store, does well. The owner makes a killing by paying their employees in sea shells and cutting their part-time employees hours in half during the slow weeks of the year (January - April). But I am not writing this to complain about how unfair an old-fashioned grocery store is; instead, I am going to explain, using a simple example, just how inefficient, ridiculous, and wrong the managers at this place are...

One more paragraph briefly explaining the history of this place:
So I work in the 'Centre Street Coffee Joint' and, yes, it really is called Centre Street Coffee Joint. (Luckily the sign displaying our name is hidden in the chaotic mess that is the coffee shop - as I shall explain soon.) This coffee joint is located in the grocery store that is known as Harding's. Now I am no business major, but I do know just how idiotic the layout of the coffee shop is, let alone most of the store. You could never imagine just how many customers come up to me and ask me where something is... just to follow me in circles around the store because the item in question is not located in obvious spot that it should be (ie, nuts are located in three spots: the cooking aisle, the candy/junk food aisle, and the produce department). Anyways, I am getting off topic again...

So the owner of Harding's (who shall remain nameless, hint: his last name is Harding!) installed this coffee shop to boost sales (which it does not!). The coffee shop was placed near the deli and the eatery, which I will admit is a good location to put the 'Joint.' My biggest complaint about the coffee shop layout is just how crowded it is becoming. And not the good crowded with customers and money flowing every which way; the bad crowded with absolutely no counterspace left unadvertised. 

"So what's the big deal?" you ask, "So all your counter space is used up with merchandise you wish to sell!"

Partially. Yes, the counterspace is filled to the brim with merchandise. No, we (the coffee shop employees) do not wish to sell these items. In fact, other than the display of coffees and teas (which both have their own spots off the counter and on their own shelves) the coffee shop makes no profit on any of the other items taking up all our space. Yes, that's right:
THE COFFEE SHOP GETS 0% OF THE SALES ON ITEMS IN THE COFFEE SHOP!

And that is just the beginning of this mess. Because what kind of 'merchandise' is taking up all our space? The following is an incomplete list (incomplete, but it gets the point across) of everything that has taken all our counterspace/floorspace in the last three months:
Cookies, Biscotti, Chocolates... (okay... this is coffee-type stuff. So far so good...)
...Stuffed Animals, Odwalla Fruit Bars, Amped Energy Drinks, Hitman Energy Drinks, Ginger Root Chews, Vegan Jerkey, Doritos, Other Chips, Popcorn, Honey Sticks, Wine, Pickles, Canned Soup, Muffins, Candles... (WTF!?^^)
We also carry a Pepsi cooler below our counter... (sigh...)

What the hell?

I realize this coffee shop (coffee shop!) is located in a grocery store, but this is really pushing it. Oh, and the chocolates we carry... it's mostly Ghirardelli and for some reason we have more Ghirardelli chocolates in the coffee shop than they do in their designated spot in Aisle 1. In fact, almost ALL these crazy products can be found elsewhere in the store. So why pile all this shit in the coffee shop? One of the brilliant managers says it's because people walk by the coffee shop, so maybe they will see something they want and impulse buy it. You know what that says to me? It says that they want this coffee shop to be like a cashier line because this concept reminds me of all the shit they pile up and around cash registers (candy, magazines, toothpicks, Su Do Ku puzzles, etc.). 

This coffee shop has long ago turned into a candy store and is now turning into a convenient store... 


Extra Note:
...unless I have something to say about it. 

I have turned this into a game. Every time we get a new product that does not belong in the coffee shop, I will grab the item(s) and go place it randomly somewhere in the store - preferably near where other products of the same sort are already located. It only makes since to me that Vegan Jerkey would either go next to the Beef Jerkeys or go next to the rest of our vegetarian products... and not in the coffee shop.

I shall fight this!

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The St. Patrick's Day Phenomenon

 Every year on March 17th college students and the drunk at heart leave their dimly lit basements to drink in dimly lit bars. I live in a college town and I was slightly nervous driving around today. No... not really, but I was actually surprised by home many lawn parties and just how long the lines at bars 'n' grills were at two in the afternoon. I had a class today and as I drove toward the university I passed a bar that had gated off an area on the sidewalk for people to drink. My class started at 3pm today. And I had people openly admit, in class, that they had been drinking since 7am - one girl was actually drunk! Bar lines were insane when I drove home at 10pm.

It is the St. Patrick's Day Phenomenon!

St. Patty's Day is an excuse for the drunkards to celebrate public drinking and stupidity. Is this what being Irish is all about? It seems like it. What I do not get is why people who have absolutely zero Irish background/ancestory go put on a green t-shirt and scream and shout and drink their wallets dry, celebrating Irishness. I am not Irish - therefore, I do not go out and drink myself silly. I just realized... I actually did not drink anything on St. Patrick's Day! Oddly enough, I do not feel like I missed out on much.

I am not against drinking... but I guess I am against St. Patrick's Day. It means nothing. The day celebrates nothing Irish - except getting plastered. I do not want to piss on the Irish, but St. Patrick's Day says that they have nothing else going for them. 

I am Algerian-Canadian. Calgerian! If the Irish can have a day that means absolutely nothing, then why can't we Calgerians?

Well... now we do! August 27 is now the official Calgerian Day. That's right... and what exactly is this day about? Well, wearing black and getting shit-faced, or course! Is there anything else we could possibly do to help society?

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A Rant Against Rants

 Yes. It is exactly like the title reads. I am ranting against myself ranting. 
This is all I want to say about myself and my ranting ways:

My only good rants are about things that are not in my personal life. They must be about something completely random and written in essay format. None of this run-on sentence or phraseology bullshit. 

That is all.

Respect

 Respect. R-e-s-p-e-c-t. Pretty damn easy to spell.

Not just a song, no not really, although this simple word does mean a lot. At least to me. And, to me, it seems that this tiny little word (all seven letters) should be dealt out with the utmost care, each letter as important as the one preceding, if not more. Yet, this simple word seems so hard to come by these days. 

Respect is not tricky. Respect is fairly simple. Respect has easy rules one must follow. Respect is the code of law. Respect is the number one freedom we all must give - to then in turn receive. At least it should be.

Some of us have the most difficult time displaying this basic trait for others. Some of us cannot motive ourselves to maybe take a step around that, or to upright that which is not theirs that was tipped... some of us are completely oblivious to respect: and then puff and moan and cry and fly off the handle when respect is not dealt in return. 

Is it so hard for one to go out of their way to respect another? I do not think this is so. 

And to those of you who cannot muster up respect...

...whether it be because you do not know what respect is...
...or you are not skilled in the art of showing respect...
...or if you are too lazy to make the effort...

remember:

I will pummel you with doorknobs!

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El on Car Commercials

 Watching television is bittersweet. I do not know why I do it. Over half the time I am hitting the mute button on my remote or I am changing the channel, rolling my eyes along the way. It is painful, it hurts!, to see all these idiotic commercials and television shows. Recently I have found myself watching Discovery Channel and History Channel and the like. The fact that they broadcast intelligent, albeit fake, shows makes my brain feel like it is being stimulated, at least minorly probed. Whatever, it helps. Or so I think. 

But to whatever channel I run to there is no escaping the mundane, all the same, never changing car commercial. They are everywhere. It's annoying!

What I do not understand about advertising for vehicles is that everybody needs one. We know it, the car companies obviously realize this - and it seems they are trying to capitalize on this as best they can. Is the best they can do be mind-numbingly plain? I am not saying their commercials suck because they are plain - far from that! In fact, I would not mind if there existed a car commercial where, for thirty seconds, an image of the new Camry would appear - no music, no deep-throated narrative, no Pro-America! music - and in silence they would display the price. For thirty seconds: an image of a car and a price. That's all I need. As a consumer, all I need to know about is the price. Okay, maybe they could display some stats: like the mpg and the number of cup holders... the things I really care about.

But no. For some reason this is not possible. Instead we are bombarded with fast text and faster cars flying down animated streets with horny celebrities sitting in the drivers seat hoping to catch an orgasm on the next speed bump. I understand the fact that the car companies are trying to sell products, and (I guess), their logic is that maybe if their commercials use all 9,385,291 colors known to mankind and there is a hip beat playing from their surround sound audio speakers while their children play their Playstation 3 on the 47" LCD screen hanging behind the drivers seat that, maybe, just maybe, I would drop $45,000 on the new Cadillac Escalade and single-handedly save the drowning automotive industry. (Whew! Deep breaths.)

I am dumbstruck by the stupidity of this logic. And here is why:

In order for these car companies to survive they need as many consumers to buy their product as possible. Simple. Easy to figure out and I don't even have a Bachelor's in Economics. Okay, so if they are targeting the mass consumer audience - AKA the normal person - then why the hell are they showing how fast a hemi can brake before plummeting off of a cliff? Why are they showing me that their cars can reach 60 mph in just 3.1 seconds (is that fast? I just made that number up)? Why are they showing cowboys driving trucks up and down mountains as buildings explode behind them? When am I, the normal person consumer, ever going to be put in any of those situations? Maybe if the Popo are chasing me, I could have them following me up and down the Arizona desert and, right before I jump over the Grand Canyon, I brake and the unfortunately unprepared vehicles and the cops all go falling to their watery deaths! Right...

And what is all this gobble-dee-gook about gas prices? Maybe I am the only human that has noticed this (my kitten realizes the truth), but gas prices are amazing right now! I am buying unleaded gasoline for $1.79 per gallon. Sure beats the heck out of the $3.00+ I was paying just last summer. So stop with the miles per gallon already. We all know everyone is shooting for efficiency nowadays. Is that really the only good thing about your car? I get two extra miles per tank with your silver hunk of crap compared to that tan pile of... stuff. No thank you.

Now, the final issue I have with car commercials is this: STOP! WITH! THE! BEING! A! MAN! EQUALS! HEMI! AND! HORSEPOWER!

This cannot be overemphasized. So I will do it again, below:

STOP WITH THE BEING A MAN = HEMI + HORSEPOWER


Yes. We get it! Men like powerful tools and racing cars and bazookas and anything to do with gas. But seriously, spare us! The manly-man commercials are the trashiest of the garbage that are car commercials. I do not have much else to say about this. It is pretty self-explanatory.

One last thought: How the hell are these car companies able to afford all these damn commercials?
 

I Like How...

...everyone is a self-proclaimed Professor of Musica Academia - for some disclosed reason they believe they are the chosen one who determines what music is decent and what is utter crap. So, naturally playing along, I personally believe that person to be me.

...people must wait for someone else - anyone else! - to make the first move before they can breath again and follow like cattle. (Thought to self: how has Ukraine lasted this long?)

...in high school we would all kill to be like everyone else, but now, in the post-high school arena (the place that actually matters), people are jumping planetary distances to seperate themselves from the tedium that is averageness.

...people are more impressed when I tell them I am taking Astrophysics than they are when I say I volunteer seven hours a week (which I don't, I am just pointing out the flaws in society by creating a what-if? universe where I actually do volunteer... which, again, I don't.)

...I feel smart when other people ask questions I deem as 'stupid.'

...I am trying to be honest here and not just put down the rest of humanity while throw myself up on a pedestal (frankly because I have not found a pedestal tall enough to keep me from smelling the wretched stench that is all of your sub-human corpses)

...I just gave up trying to be nice and duck-'n'-covered for the easier, jocular, method.

These School Works are Killing Me

Yeah. That's right. The subject explains everything. These school works are killing me!

I am supposed to be writing 200,000 words this year (roughly 548 each day)... I am supposed to be playing video games and review them for the site that I run.... I am supposed to be keeping up the said site and updating at least twice each week (Sundays/Mondays the calendar and then some other point during the week with a review or two)... and the most important thing, which I am spending a TON of time on, is all this damned reading and homework that I get from my classes I am taking:

GEOS 1300 - Physical Geology & Lab
GEOS 1310 - Historical Geology & Lab
CS 1023 - Engineering Programming & Lab
CS 1040 - Programming C/C++
PHYS 3250 - Astrophysics

And boy am I falling behind in my writing! I am trying not to worry, maybe getting most of my writing done on the weekends and especially this summer. I mean, look on the bright side: I have already written 2 reviews, kept up the site each Monday, and finished my first draft of Chapter 1 of the novel I am working on - all this in the first 14 days of 2009. Pretty good. I am also up to date on my homework and there is no falling behind. And, somehow in all this, I am getting enough sleep. So that works too. I guess I am just going to double (or triple) my words per day this summer, for the four months I have off. I want to be really far ahead by the time September rolls around, so that, like now, I can focus on school work and the website (the site is easier to get stuff done in short spurts - it doesn't take nearly as long as sitting down and writing a Chapter in a novel that seemed like a good idea at first!). 

Time to get back to the Astrophysics now...

There is Snow-Covered Proof on the Roof

The smoke suffocates the criminal
I see you staring in your sleep
And I send the message, subliminal
Unfortunate you are an ocean, deep

I cannot find an escape
Try to hide the evidence as it burns
My pride shifts in shape
To something I vacantly yearn

I try to leave the left wing
Of my intimacy undiscovered yet
I'm here to show you something
You might as well forget

Salvage the ideas of genuine smarts
And I cannot start to explain
Why the sun sets each time I start
And how the mist shrouds the brain

There is snow covering the proof
That I try to wipe from my ladder
I use to reach the tallest roof
Equates the higher, the sadder

The more I climb the more I whine
You won't know the difference
And I am too drunk to stand behind
You when it is time to bow

When I reach the top I fall and slip
To the bottom where you pace
I land on my head, massive whip
Lashed across my broken face

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Idea for Video Games - #1

I am an avid role-playing gamer. I enjoy the classic cliches that come along with this genre of gaming. I also enjoy the tediousness that is leveling up your character to be strong enough to defeat the Mega-Spider at the end of the Black Dungeon. It amuses me for some masochistic reason. 
However, as much as I am in love with good ol' RPGs and the fantasticness that they are, I do appreciate some 'out of the box' thinking for the genre. So here, today, I begin Volume 1 of a currently unnumbered series of ideas that I would love to see brought into RPGs. Now, don't worry - these ideas aren't going to change the genre of said video game that I want to change (I will sporadically change video game genres between volumes of this text). For example, I will never, EVER, say something along the lines of the following, "I think RPG characters should have guns where we can go around shooting peoples in first-person point of view." No! Nuh-uh! If I wanted to dink around in this type of setting I would go off and play a first-person shooter... and we don't want that.

So here goes, sports-fans! 

IDEA #1 - Currencies that change with the regions/countries

All of us who have played RPGs (Final Fantasy, Tales, Diablo, Baldur's Gate, et cetera) have noticed that there usually is only one currency throughout the world - all the countries, regions, sometimes even planets, well, they all somehow share the same currency and any one item that can be found in a myriad of places usually is around the same price. Now I know this keeps things simple, but my idea could add an additional dimension to strategy not seen in RPGs (that I know of). 

Here's how I envision this:

There exists a world that has, say, 10 countries/regions that the protagonist must travel during the length of the game. Say he starts in Country A, which is the largest and most prosperous country. Naturally, their currency (call it currency A, to keep things simple) is worth more than the other nine countries. So say the main character travels from Country A to Country B at this point in the game: well, Country B's currency is worth less than Country A's currency - so if you exchange 10 Currency As when you get to Country B, you might get 20 Currency Bs. Maybe you would be able to afford a weapon here, but it might be of less quality (although it is generally the same weapon, more or less). 

Then, let's say, at some point in the game Country A goes to war with Country F. Of course the economy of both countries rise (because, as seen in WWII, economies do much better during a war --- unless hte country is losing, or something). But then let us say that Country A starts losing the war - badly! Country A's economy plummets into a quasi-depression. Well, Currency A also loses value drastically. So if your main character, at this point in the game, is holding 1000 Currency As it might be equivalent to only 20 Currency As after Country A starts losing the war. What does this mean? Well, because of the economic struggles your country is going through - your money is worth less! So it exchanges for less. Before the economic struggles you could have traded 1000 Currency As for 2000 Currency Bs. During the economic struggle, however, you would be able to trade 1000 Currency As for a slim 400 Currency Bs - 1/5 of what the original exchange rate would have been.

But say things would have happened the other way: if your main character was in Country B during this economic struggle and was holding 1000 Currency Bs. Well, then the protagonist could rush over to Country A and the exchange rate would be reversed - your character could get 5 times the amount of Currency As then before this economic crash. It's like winning the lottery! Obviously Currency A is worth less (exchange rate-wise), but you can always go purchase weapons, armor, food, anything, for the normal (or maybe slightly inflated) price and get much more for your money than you would have if you stayed in Country B using Currency Bs. 

Of course, the more countries in the game just means the more confusing this system gets, but think of the joy all you wannabe accountants would get, practicing your exchange rates.

Maybe there should be a game were tax is added to non-food items! That would be an accountants wet dream.

All Is Lost But Everything


My eyes awaken and the world is a dark shade of unknown.

I try to make sense of what I see, but to no avail,

I cannot; the shadows play tricks on me.

Maybe I see what I only want to see,

But somehow I dream of different illusions.

I stand.

The trees bend their branches to block my path.

They stretch out of their reach to grab and pull.

The light barely makes itself known between the solids

And the arms block all of my day, every day.

I slash my way through the troubles,

Trying my hardest to prove to myself that I can prevail over hardships.

Personal agony pulls at my hair, mind.

Past defects slip along the ground, making me stumble.

A figurative slap in the face with metaphors bruise my cheeks.

Even the sharpest of my swords become blunt

Against literary foes and by the end of the day

I am tired. Too tired to even care,

So then I am stuck in the forest as the sun retreats.

I start to breathe heavily, for I am lost now.

I silently curse as loud as I can under my groans.

A steady buzz comes over me as I shiver in the dark.

I begin to hear various creatures, lurking and suckling

Upon others who destroyed themselves over sorrows.

I increase my step to leave this nightmare of troubles and accidents.

This journey is merely a battle to continue existence

With only a thin trail in a lonely wood to follow;

I make my own path at every turn.

The minions seem to think I am easy prey;

They don't seem to leave me alone.

Alas, I arrive at a clearing.

By now I have lost all hearing as darkness accelerates.

The odd buzz of the unclear language of gossip

Among the crowds and demons has shot my mind

Into a state of peril.

Although the clearing appears safe

I should know better.

Something always backs up into my way.

In the middle of the clearing appears a hill.

The turmoil of the forest rages around it.

The denying laughter of media evil encircles my being.

The stars glow strong above my head, my only comfort.

For one second I imagine myself on another planet,

Newly born from the cosmic womb.

I am taken away from this hell frenzy.

And just as I leave I am sucked back in.

A fire has exploded and engulfed my life. The brightness hurts my war-soaked brow and I turn away blinded and torn.

My eyes are shocked at the sight

Even though my mind expects no less

From wild beasts that eat off others misfortunes

And broadcast it for all to see in the safety

Of themselves and their cozy beds.

I seem to be lost in this world,

There looks to be no way out of this peace taken field.

I gaze up at the moon, for one last time - the gods smile down.

I nod.

This is my time to shine as the stars do.

This is for all the people who believed in me,

All the people who thought I had a purpose,

All the people who kept me in their past,

And all of those who think of me.

I raise my sword knowing full well the effects it has on fire.

A companion would be nice, but this is an internal battle.

A solo mission that I must overcome within.

Sure, other people may have caused the flames,

But I, myself, must extinguish them

Or they will rage on inside me forever.

My sword is raised. I have come this far.

No use turning back, as a smirk cynically at even the possibility.

My throat hurts, so I won't yell, but my mind screams!

As I rush into the fire: my fate, my destiny.

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