Christmas Trivia

Why was Frosty the Snowman always a Jolly Happy Soul?
Check what’s in his pipe.
He has come out of hiding now
His eyes made of coal are safe for now.

Why was Rudolph’s Nose always red? 
Whisky with his Reindeer Chow.

What new Christmas song is based on the Election?
Clinton Got Run Over by the Trump Train

Does anyone know what a Bough of Holly is any more?
Or how to Deck the Halls with It?
We still did that when I was a kid, Holly and Evergreen Cuttings.
And wreaths made out of IBM Punch Cards sprayed silver and gold.

What is a Figgy Pudding?
I had to write a friend in London to find out.
Sounds Yummy!

Yet another new Song!
Here Comes Santa Trump!

Merry Christmas!

Psychology of Marketing

Ready for your blood pressure to rise…Here is comes…..   SALE! 
Pavlov proved on certain commands, the dogs would come running!

Did you participate in Black Friday? Cyber Monday? Welcome to Pavlov’s world. You have been conditioned for years by retailers to barely finish digesting your Thanksgiving Meal and then rush out to stores in hope of finding that outstanding bargain. Gotcha!
Did you find what you were looking for or did you end up settling for whatever they had on sale. Or worse yet, did you buy what you wanted at full price, simply to not feel cheated out of the Black Friday Experience.

After Black Friday, the retailers all count the products they have left, and that tells them how many more sales they need to have before Christmas. Then starts the Two Day Super Sale or the Santa Doesn’t Want a Hernia Sale and finally the Last Chance Before Christmas Sale. The world will come to an end if you miss that one! Nobody wants to miss their Last Chance!

The best time to buy is in January, when they have to get rid of all the leftover stock or pay taxes on it. Do NOT go buy right after Christmas. They know all those gift cards and Christmas Money are coming and you won’t get any break now. The day after Christmas is almost as good for retailers as Black Friday.

Pricing is another key to the Psychology of Marketing. Why is everything always $19.95. Because people automatically associate with the first half of a number, not the last half. $19,95 says 19, not $20. Even though with tax, the item will be over $20. The other trick is 20% off sale. You save your sales tax, the retailer writes off the discount and everybody feels like they gained something. What you have to find out is, what was the regular price.  If a retailer normally sold an item for say 19.95 against a suggested retail price of $24.95. Now, with the SALE, they are giving you 20% off the Suggested Retail Price, you aren’t saving a thing. So make sure you know what an item sold for before Christmas.

Here’s my favorite. You have a Credit Card that pays you CASH BACK.  They’re screwing you for 14 – 24 percent on ALL of your purchases but by golly you will get 1% cash back. Pay CASH! You’ll get 14 – 24 percent back. People need to remember an old concept in savings. The Christmas Fund. Save all year and spend it at Christmas. Avoid Credit Card Debt.

Last but not least, here come the Charities. December is their banner month too. Watch out for those Bell Ringers, they can be vicious.
I personally resent being assaulted every time I go to a big box store. But they aren’t alone, every major charity will solicit you and they do sell each other their lists of donors. So if you give to one, you will be solicited by others. I filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission on that one. It took me weeks to get off of all the lists. If you want to donate, give cash to a local charity. If you chose to give to a National Charity, make sure you tell them NOT to give or sell your information to anyone for any purpose.

You are being manipulated, more than you will ever know. That’s the Psychology of Marketing.

Christmas Music

I grew up in a very musical home. Dad played the Violin, Mom played Piano and Organ, my brother played Trumpet, then piano and organ and I played drums, Saxophone and Baritone when I broke my left pinky. Dad listened to old country, mom listened to easy listening, Boston Pops and Opera, my brother covered the Beatles and other groups from the 50’s to the late 60’s and I finished it off with Rush, Queen, Aerosmith, Kiss and Chicago.

Christmas Music was always big in our home. From the day after Thanksgiving, mom’s multi-record console Stereo was stacked with multiple Christmas Albums. We did everything from “The Mormon Choir,” to “Big Crosby,” to “The Grasshoppers.” If mom was in a really snarky mood or mad at one of us kids, we got a whole afternoon of “Mario Lanza” and “Luciano Pavrotti” always on the loudest setting possible. While both are solid singers, they are murder to two kids stuck in the house.

Fast forward…the decade is the 1980’s, and I was working at the mall, selling all sorts of overpriced electronics for Radio Shack. I was one of two lead salesmen in the store and we had a blast. He’d sell a stereo, I’d sell a stereo, He’d sell a television, I’d sell a television. One of the things we had to sell was a pair of Mach 1 speakers. These things were huge and put out one heck of a sound. The trick was to find the perfect music to demo them. Someone suggested Mannheim Steamroller’s “Christmas Album.” “What’s that?” I said, I had not heard of them. One of the guys had a copy in his car, so he went to get it while we set up the Mach 1’s and our best stereo right by the door, which sat directly across from the food court.

We put in the disc and cranked up the stereo. What came blasting out of the speakers was some of the coolest music I had ever heard. Everyone in the food court stopped talking and some of the people started dancing. Within 10 minutes we had a store full of people and sold 4 stereos with speakers. We also had a visit from The Mall Cops. They demanded we turn the music down and stomped away. We waited till they were about half way down the mall and then cranked it up again. Mall Cops can run. This time they talked to our manager who promptly reminded them that Radio Shack was paying rent on two locations and as soon as we could, we would be setting up a second stereo at the second location too. We turned down the music a little and kept selling

For those of you who are not familiar with Mannheim Steamroller, they have been around a long time now. They have a website you can visit http://www.mannheimsteamroller.com There you can read about the group, see where they will be on tour and have some fun. You can also visit their store. (Note: I have not been compensated in any way for this endorsement.) I found a few selections up on YouTube but they were pretty poor copies. So much for YouTube protecting Copyright.  This is my favorite among their albums. Especially the “Deck The Halls” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” tracks.

51S1MZgB6qL_200x200

No matter what kind of Christmas Music you like, put some on! It’s already half way to Christmas!

Lurch

If you are old enough, when you saw the title you figured I was going to write about the character from “The Addams Family.” Fooled Ya! This article is about my Parrot.

I got Lurch for my birthday in 1974. He was a Yellow Naped Amazon and was rescued from a pet shop in Cincinnati, Ohio and spent his first few days in a dorm room at University of CIncinnati. I don’t know if that had an affect on Lurch or not, but he never spoke clearly and would often make weird sounds for no good reason. My brother indicated that he had been exposed to loud music and the occasional drug fume of one type or another. So, Lurch in a nutshell was a stoner.

When Lurch finally arrived at home, he had a bad eye and a broken toe that had healed badly. He had no band on his leg, so I had to figure he was an illegal alien too. Lurch was also what they called a Bronco. Nice and friendly one minute and would bite a chunk out of anything close the next minute. I still carry scars from a couple of his attacks.

Lurch arrived in a monkey cage and that stayed his home for years. He knew how to open the door and it took several trial runs to find dishes he could not dump on the floor when he wanted attention of a snack. I ended up having to put a flip lock on the cage door and tying down the dishes with electronic cable ties. He would spend lots of time trying to defeat the lock and he would bang the dishes up and down like a prisoner rattling a cup in an old gangster movie. if that didn’t work, he would start screeching at full volume. When we lived in apartments, the police got called twice accusing us of child abuse. When the second officer came, Lurch sat there growing at him very much like Ted Cassidy used to do on “The Addams Family.” That was one of Lurch’s Favorite TV shows.

Lurch loved the noise and pictures of television. He would laugh with me during comedies and when anyone cried on a show, Lurch would cry with them. I had to buy a whole extra box of tissues when we watched “Little House on the Prairie.” Someone was always crying or dying on that show. He really enjoyed westerns and any show with animals. he could do a pretty good horse and dog when he was in the mood.

When I had owned Lurch for around 20 years, he started getting really moody and nasty. I consulted with several sources and the opinion was that Lurch needed a mate. I couldn’t afford one, so I was put in touch with a well known Breeding Farm for parrots. Lurch got a new home and last I heard, he was having the time of his life and I was a bird grandfather many times over. That was about 20 years ago. Since parrots can live a long time, I hope he is still happy and has grandkids and great grandkids of his own.

The Internet can be Cool!

I have been on the Internet since the first week it went public. I had the 7th web site that went live. The potential of the technology fascinated me and I wanted to get in on the ground floor.

Over the years, I have designed about twenty different websites for things I was doing and well over 250 sites for customers. I do simple designs that are great for most businesses, especially those who don’t need e-commerce. Along the way, I have had several sites that garnered interest, but none more than one I called “The Cemetery Shop.”  The original intent of the site was to provide a place for people to ask questions about funerals and burials, without having to consult a funeral director.

The site dribbled on for several months and I helped some folks. But it wasn’t a lot of activity. Then one day the Clinton’s let their dog run loose and it got hit by a truck. I wrote an obituary for Buddy and the site popped hundreds of hits over night. Around the same time, the first Iraq mess started and the zoo got bombed and the lion got killed. I wrote an obituary for the Lion and that popped thousands of hits to my site. I sat back in pure wonderment and said, “I wonder what would happen if I did an obituary for a famous person?”

Within a few days, Milton Berle died, so I wrote a full blown obituary and added a picture. The site went nuts! Thank you Uncle Milty! So when the next celebrity died, I added that person and thousands of additional hits. I ran the site from 2000 to 2003 and when I closed it, I had over 4.5 Million Unique visitors a year, the site had been written up in several newspapers and magazines, and some of my obituaries had been read at the celebrity funeral service. I also got to know some celebrities and both George Carlin and Rodney Dangerfield were contributors to other sections on the site.

Social Media has far eclipsed the impact my site may have had. Celebrities either Facebook or Twitter and that gives their fans at least an impression of access. I tweeted to lots of people while on Twitter, some of them from the old days at The Cemetery Shop. It was cool to catch up a little and keep track. I stopped Tweeting when I started this blog, so hopefully a new audience will be garnered. I found out just a few days ago, that a son of my friend in London is an actor there. His name is Christopher Keddie and he has  some credits in the U.K. and I think he could do well here in America too. Directors and Producers, take a look!

Celebrities aren’t the only people you can meet on the net, I have corresponded with writers, politicians, athletes, and even some of the top scientists and tech minds in the world. I know people on all continents and dozens of countries,

How Cool !

The Christmas Trees

Every year at Christmas when I was young, we would spend some time at Grandma and Grandpa Sweitzer’s house, eating a huge holiday dinner, enjoying presents and seeing all the Cousins and Aunts and Uncles we had not seen all year. It was a house full of people, screaming kids and usually someone playing the old out of tune upright Player Piano with the player missing.

One of the things us kids always looked forward to was Grandpa’s Christmas tree. It was one of those horrible fake Aluminum trees, with a color wheel.To make it something special, Grandpa drilled a hole into the bottom of it’s wooden core and mounted it on top of an old record player that had one of those metal stems to hold multiple records. Then he set that player to slow and the tree would rotate. The whole thing got placed on his big wooden desk that sat in from of the picture window that faced the street. People from all over the neighborhood would stroll by, just to see Grandpa’s Spinning multi-colored Christmas Tree.

Grandpa decorated the tree with various things and those small candy canes. Us kids would make a game of snatching the candy from the spinning tree. This seems like silly entertainment now, but for 5 and 6 year olds in 1965, it helped pass the time and get us a Sugar Fix too.

Grandma’s contribution to the trees every year was to make a Gumdrop Tree. She used those really huge Gumdrops to make a colorful tree on a Styrofoam Cone base. she’d spend an hour sticking Gumdrops to the tree with toothpicks, so the kids could pick their favorite color and flavor from the tree. She would refill it, so there was always some available for a quick treat. Between the two trees, the kids could make it through what was usually a very long day.

Grandma Sweitzer Toast

When I was a youngster, I stayed at my grandparent’s house quite a bit. Dad and mom both worked, so they would drop me there and sometimes I would get picked up late in the day or sometimes I would spend the night. I had the front room by the attic stairs so I could look out to the traffic going by, or if I was bored, I would sneak up the attic stairs and spend time exploring. Their house was one of those huge old Victorians, four floors from basement to attic.

JACKSON

On the mornings when I spent the night, Grandpa would wake me and I would dash down to the small kitchen at the back of the house and join Grandma while she made breakfast. Usually it was simple stuff like Bacon and Eggs or sometimes Oatmeal, but always on the side was a stack of Grandma Sweitzer Toast. 

Grandma has one of those old all metal toasters. I don’t know what year she got it, but I would suspect somewhere in the 1940’s after WWII. By the time I came along in the 1960’s the poor thing was worn out. It was my job to sit and watch the toaster, to make sure it did not burn the toast. Many times, we would get to talking and laughing and I would forget the toaster until we smelled something burning. Out would pop two slices of burnt, very crispy toast. Grandma would put it on a plate and walk over to the sink. She’d stand there scraping off the burnt part and what was left was usually just a sliver of bread with crust. On this, she would slather a huge amount of fresh butter she got at the farmer’s market. By the time breakfast was served, the toast was very sloppy and chewy and delicious. Some of the slices were so thin, they would collapse in two when you picked them up.

To this day, I like my toast crispy and a little burnt, I always add butter and if I happen to have some, a glob of home made jam or even better some Apple Butter. We did all sorts of things, but the base is always, Grandma Sweitzer Toast.

Political Correctness is for the Birds

Living in America is no fun any more. Thanks to this insane Politically Correct environment we all live in, it’s almost illegal to pick on anyone any more. American History is filled with groups who got picked on when they arrived in America. Those who had arrived before them and fought to establish themselves, looked at the new group and said, “All Right! New Meat!”

For a long time, it was popular to pick on the Africans, the Irish, the Catholics, during WWII, the Japanese and the Germans.Now we have the Mexicans and the Muslims and just when you get the jokes rolling, you get slammed with Racist and Bigot! I pull an old word back from the depths of grammar…Pshaw! It’s no worse than the old Polish Jokes and Jewish jokes. Humor is a way people relate with things that are strange to them. Strange makes people uneasy.

This last election cycle blasted Political Correctness back in to the Swamp where it came from. People are tired of having things shoved at them right and left and then told they aren’t allowed to react with normal human emotions. That is in a nutshell why Trump won. He found out that people want and are ready for things to get back to some other sense of normal. This post 911 Politically Correct Crapola has driven people to the edge. Thanks to Trump’s campaign, the people who have been stifled far too long, have a voice again.

It is time to Make America Great Again. It is time to fight against the flood of sick mentality that has grasped this country far too long. And it’s time to wake up and bring the Family and Business back to life again! I have seen a change in just the few short days since the election results came in. People have woken up, their enthusiasm is back and they are ready to move in a profound direction. This kind of activism has not been seen in a long time and it is exciting! Washington has been given a loud and clear message. We are sick of the stagnation and it’s time for you folks to do the jobs you were elected to do!

Carpe Diem!   Seize The Day! Make the most of it and reach for the stars!

Inspiration

I knew I wanted to write a long time ago, I started out in Journalism and moved into other forms of writing. I read all the famous writers, Steinbeck, Hemmingway, Poe, Dreiser, London, Twain, Salinger, Vonnegut, Lewis, Tolkien, and many others. I settled on Steinbeck as my favorite. I’ve read almost everything he mass published and I owned copies of most of the novels for a while, I gave my collection to a local school a couple of years ago with a few exceptions. I still read him over and over and I do have my favorites.

Alex Haley inspired me to expand my Genealogy Research and to try to tell the story. He also taught me to make sure it was as accurate as possible. He was sued because he did not disclose in Roots that he was adopted. There were also allegations of Plagiarism thrown against him and he ended up penniless. It’s a shame because Roots had a huge impact on both Genealogy and Television.

Television writers have inspired me. People like Earl Hamner have taught me to explore and produce the story. Hamner created “The Waltons,” and “Falcon Crest”, two series shows that I really enjoyed. Writers like Sid Caesar,  Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks have brought me decades of laughter.

For my photography, I can not pin down a specific person who inspired me. I am inspired by nature and most of my photography is based out of doors. I also like cool mechanical things, like planes, trains and ships. It’s the subject, more than a specific person that gets those juices going. There is one person who I do credit for my ability to design websites and also my photographic results. This person is not a web designer or photographer. He was a teacher I knew many years ago, while in High School. He had charge of the stage plays we produced and taught me about creating the picture, watching the balance, making sure things were in their best light, literally. Color balances, depth of scene and perspective, things he taught me then, still apply to the other mediums where I create now. He is and has been a public figure for years since his teaching days, so I will not include his name.

It doesn’t matter who or what inspires you. Take that inspiration and combine it with your creativity and talent. The results could end up stunning and be worthy of world wide recognition.

Tis’ the Season

“Black Friday” has come and gone and the whole country is now ramping up into the Christmas Season. You notice I DID NOT say Holiday Season. I am not Politically Correct and I don’t celebrate anything but Christmas and even that I keep to a minimum any more. The family is scattered and many of them have died off. There are no great gatherings at Grandma’s house, so no more going over the Mahoning River or through the woods of Mill Creek Park. Home was a suburb of Youngstown, Ohio and Grandma’s House was on the East Side of Youngstown, just above the valley and the Steel Mills.

I do try to keep traditions alive. I eat some sort of Turkey Dinner, I always watch “The Christmas Story” and “The Home Coming” and if I can help it I never miss watching, “White Christmas.” One the other side, I watch “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer,” “Frosty The Snowman” and “It’s a Charlie Brown Christmas.” Linus fixing up that crappy little Christmas Tree brings tears to my eyes year after year.

Music is another major part of Christmas for me. There’s nothing Cooler than Manheim Steamroller’s first Christmas Album. Spin that followed buy some Burl Ives, “Holly Jolly Christmas” and finish out the set with the Grasshoppers singing, “The Christmas Song.” “Christmas, Christmas Time is Here, Time for Joy and Time for Cheer, We’ve been Good but We can’t Last, Hurry Christmas Hurry Fast”…… I like a lot of the Church oriented favorites too, “Joy to the World,” “Silent Night” in both English and German and if I really want to get the blood stirring, I throw on The Mormons singing, “The Hallelujah Chorus” and turn the volume way up! Some of the best music has been produced for Christmas, not Kwanzaa and certainly not Hanukkah. Though I suppose there are some Jewish Favorites available if you are looking for such fare.

Gift Giving is another Holliday Tradition. Like anyone, I get a kick out of getting things and I also like to give things. Do you have someone you don’t know what to give them?  How about a website? Or maybe a customized family picture. A year worth of Genealogy help and research, These are all things available at Doug’s Country. Don’t miss the Store Page! I’ve got a really cool picture of the Space Shuttle there and a very nice John Wayne Print.

Have a Merry Christmas!  For the rest of you, I hope what ever you celebrate turns out nice too!