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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Popcorn and a drink - $12.50? [OUTRAGEOUS concession prices at theaters and elsewhere!]

I estimate a family of four will spend $60 to take their kids to see a matinee. Call your local theater and tell them that you are tired of their gouging for refreshments. Enough is enough!
Really hollywood 4 text

Sherry and I went to a matinee last Friday, and on top of the $6.75 matinee ticket price,  Hollywood Theaters in Columbia Missouri charged me $12.50 for a large popcorn and drink. I figure their cost at about 50 cents for both - MAX!

Theaters have extremely low staffing costs because most of the employees are part-time school kids and get no insurance or benefits. So why have theaters and sports venues historically been able to gouge 10 X the usual price for food, candy and refreshments?

At my university, when they host the state high-school basketball (and all other events), they have people at the entries that search every camera bag, purse and container that paying patrons bring in. When I asked what they were looking for, they said "contraband, it's for security reasons."

Just a peek ma'am, for security reasons - It's just wrong.

As I stood to the side and watched, I saw them make a woman throw a small bag of peanuts and a candy bar from her purse into a waiting trash container before they would let her in. How embarrassing - for them, not her. I feel much more secure knowing someone won't blow me up with an explosive candy bar. In fact, it is blatant protection of the vendors' ability to overcharge for their wares.

A good solution would be to charge a reasonable price for refreshments so everyone can enjoy them, and sell a few more to make up for it. Tell your local theaters and venues that enough is enough. I sent Hollywood theaters an email telling them that I will skip the next 3 good movies there, make my own popcorn and drinks and rent the DVD in a few weeks. It'll cost me $5 instead of $30 for us to see the movie in the comfort of our home. Maybe we should all do the same for awhile and let the theaters stew a little.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Yes, I admit it - I have a clogged drain.

So, being a fan of craigslist, I put an ad in for someone to run a snake down there and root it out. I have had 3 responses. The first one wanted to do the work, but flaked out on 2 appointments, not even calling for one of them. I kind of expect that from craigslist postings; about 1 in 4 are unreliable.

The second two were more interesting. They both said that they wanted $125 or $150 to show up at the door and that maybe they could do the job for $150. My response was that I would pay $150 cash when the sink worked, Both had some lame lament about them coming all that way (20 miles) and not getting anything for it. I said that life's a gamble and since I was paying $150 for maybe an hour's work that I should expect a firm commitment to a positive outcome for my money. They then became uninterested in the job. In other words, they were looking for a sure-thing payday whether or not they got the drain cleared!

I spent 20 years working as an electrician.  I never charged a client anything if I could not perform the work they required - ever. I think it is an unethical act to show up, get money, drag out your tools and fritter around a bit and then say "jeez, I'm sorry but it'll cost twice what you payed to actually fix the problem," or give some other lame excuse for not doing what you were paid for. Charging for a service call without satisfactorily completing the service is just plain wrong. Anyone got a plumbing snake and want to make $150?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Will somebody please, please burn some leaves?

When I was a kid, I remember the smell of leaves burning as vividly as any photograph of fall scenery. You could walk along and kick piles of them and watch as they floated back to ground. I could even rake them up for the neighbors and make enough to get something at the Five & Dime.

Nowadays, the Five & Dime's history and there are books of ordinances requiring homeowners to ensconce their leaves in sanitary plastic for pickup at the curb. There are laws against burning leaves, and future generations won't have that olfactory memory around Halloween time.

I wonder when some enterprising new-ager will come up with a way to compress a dry leaf into a little pellet and market it as incense or potpourri for yoga moms to meditate over while they enjoy a soothing latte in the sauna. Maybe burning-leaf car fresheners will be the vogue in a few years, or eau de Leaf cologne (his and her flavors, of course).

I have surely lived in a golden age, and am thankful when my neighbors out in the country burn leaves in the fall. They don't have to, mind you, but I have a hunch they do it just because they can.
I'll post a photo here when I get one.

Monday, November 8, 2010

'nuf said

We voted. What now?

Why is it that stores and businesses regularly raise prices on everything - all the while crying about their costs - and the consumer just has to suck it up and knuckle under to get by on less and less?

I'm sure it's no surprise to anyone when I say that real wages are falling in America. More and more stores are raising prices regularly on everyday things like food, while many employers have forestalled giving their employees cost-of-living wage adjustments for a long time. The result is that many food items now cost twice what they did a couple of years ago and the purchaser is making the same wage as before.

It's still easy to buy cheap food, like cereals, cookies and other sugar-laden crap, but nutritious food, like vegetables and meat have commonly doubled in price over just a couple of years. No wonder diabetes and other health problems are on the rise. There there, Johnny; eat your Frosty-Os and shut up.

Really HyVee!

Really HyVee!

More later..................

Monday, March 22, 2010

Health care - It's the little things that count

Remember: it's not about you!

It's the little things that count. Each small bottle of Lantus 24-hr. insulin retails for well over $100; there's about 1-2 week's supply in each bottle. Regular insulin is over $35 per bottle nowadays.
It's the little things that count (by Silver Image)

Each of these once-a-day pills for diabetics costs around $5.00 - EACH PILL! Ninety days worth is about $450 retail. Thrifty ol' Ben is not smiling.
More macro play - ol' Ben's not smiling

Keep in mind that the healthcare issue really isn't about you or me. It's about who gets how much money. It's about the insurance companies making record profits while raising rates. It's about how much money your government representatives pocket from lobbyists. It's about doctors that charge outrageous amounts so they can pay for their own insurance. It's about drug companies that charge 1000's of times their cost of development and production for drugs that the majority of people can't afford; it's all about the G$R$E$E$N$.

Some questions about the current healthcare debate come to mind:
  1. Why are healthcare costs rising at many times the rate of inflation?
  2. Why are insurance costs rising at many times the rate of inflation?
  3. Why am I called a communist liberal for thinking that every person should have affordable and available healthcare in a country where we spend hundreds of billions of dollars to send our kids to be killed in countries that most of us have probably never heard of?
  4. Why does a single pill for diabetics cost $5, a bottle of insulin cost over $100 or a simple doctor's visit cost over $100?
  5. Why is everyone talking about the prohibitive cost of providing healthcare, rather than the shame of admitting that the US has one of the lowest rates of healthcare availability in the 10 richest nations?
  6. Why are all republicans voting against universal healthcare, while almost all democrats are voting for it?
  7. Why is repealing the new healthcare system, the only major healthcare reform in decades, the primary goal of the new republican-led house?
  8. Why is the "right-to-life" issue more important than a right to a quality life? Wasn't this settled in the Roe vs. Wade decision 40 years ago?
  9. Where's the money going?

More later........