Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The future of Melmoirs

When I began blogging in 2007, I was in the company of about 1800 people in the Pittsburgh area alone. I just checked a few minutes ago, and if people are telling the truth about their locations, then Pittsburgh and vicinity is now host to over 25,000 bloggers. Yikes. I'm wondering if blogging has turned the corner and become just another form of social-media self-promotion. (There are some folks who believe it didn't have to turn the corner to achieve that low.)

Joining the world of social media was never my goal when I started Melmoirs.

What was the goal? I suppose it was a challenge to myself. Did I really have that much to say? Was it worthy of recording? of sharing with others? And could I be disciplined enough to do it on a regular basis even amidst life's sometimes hectic pace? The answer has turned out to be yes, on all fronts. Yet now, as I look back, I wonder if I could have written a single, cohesive work within the hours I spent on Melmoirs. I believe I could have done that, or could have at least crafted a draft of some larger work in that time. Which is not to say that the blog hasn't served as a great writing format, and an excellent way for me to record thoughts and experiences during the first few years of my son's life. I am so thankful that I've kept this journal of sorts, and filled it with precious moments and glimpses into these first few years with our sweet boy.

I'm just not sure what direction the blog should take at this point, if any. And we—my family and I—are entering what I suspect will be an unpredictable time of upheaval; the plan to look for new digs and sell our home is no longer just an idea, but an imminent event (Lord willin' and our house sells), an event that's likely not too far in the future.

So, I'll be taking a break from the blog for a few weeks. Now begins a waiting period, to see whether I miss the blog, or whether I feel slight relief for the hiatus. I'll also be trying to focus my attention on a "real book" attempt that I began some time ago and then laid aside, to be picked up again when I had time... and so it goes. I must make time. The time will not come to me, nor the will, unless I am deliberately committed to the goal.

If you're a recent reader, I urge you to visit older entries. If you're a follower, simply remain one and you'll know if/when a "Melmoirs comeback" happens. I'll certainly be back at some point soon with and update and hopefully exciting news. Thank you, sincerely, for ever stopping by and actually reading what I've had to say over the months and years. I hope you stick around. This isn't goodbye by any means; I'm far too verbose to promise that!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Plumbing, human and otherwise

It's been a tortuous (and torturous) week-and-a-half here in our land. Stomach virus #487 entered my son last week, and then cruelly and deliberately made its evil way first into my husband's and then my own innards. All I can say is thank goodness for indoor plumbing. I'll stop there.

It's times like we've had here lately, when I'm lying prone and nauseous, that I ponder frontiersmen and women fending off similar illnesses 175 years ago. How in the world did they do it? Can you imagine the foul situation? Especially in winter? And how about those Ingalls sisters, all FOUR of them? You ladies know what happens to monthly cycles when multiple women share close quarters... A long winter, indeed. Oh my. I cannot fathom it.

These are the things I think about while I study the strange, amoebic shapes that slide back and forth across my closed eyelids, constantly changing form (another phenomenon that only occurs when I am ill). Aren't you glad that I'm feeling better today, so I can move on to more positive, encouraging thoughts? Hurray! Happy Friday!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Not all advertising is underhanded

I know I'm a Mel-come-lately, and most of you have already enjoyed this. Just in case you haven't, here is what I I suspect was the highlight of the Grammy Awards (which I confess I did not watch, but heard about today). This is awesome. I'll be patronizing this place soon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMfSGt6rHos

Friday, February 10, 2012

The underhanded world of advertising

About a year ago, a new vitamin supply shop moved in on McKnight Road. The location is honestly not good, at an intersection but not highly visible; to make it worse, the parking lot is not obvious, so there appears to be little to no parking available for the new store. I watched the building grow, and its tenant move in and become operational. Yet I couldn't help noticing that within weeks of its big grand opening, there were huge "sale" banners flying madly out front.

I told my son that I gave it a few months at most, and then I predicted the store would close. I was frankly surprised that any lender would have funded a new building on the site, when there are myriad empty storefronts all along both sides of McKnight Road. It seemed downright foolhardy—the building and the business—especially considering that right up the road was at least one GNC location.

Well, apparently, the new vitamin store has hung in there. It's still open. It still sports the same sale banners, but it remains in business. And GNC isn't happy about this. They began the war by beginning to advertise on the large electronic billboard that sits, conveniently, right next to their new competitor. Each time we passed, there was a new GNC ad flashing periodically at just the same level as the other store's main sign. At first, GNC kept it innocent; they made heavy use of the billboard location, but maintained some class with a November/December Santa-themed campaign, which was actually sort of cute and eye-catching.

But now? GNC has gotten ugly. The latest round of ads is aimed directly at the new vitamin supplier. The old standby has targeted its younger competitor by creating snide one-liners that poke fun at the name of the newer shop. You sit at the stoplight, and you look at the new shop, likely struggling yet surviving, and then you see the GNC ads that make no apology about ridiculing the newcomer right in front of its face.

And I think that's rude. It's common, though—and it bothers me. I won't shop at Walgreen's, either, because they practice really obnoxious business tactics like building new stores directly across the street from other big-box drug stores. Not to mention they show no regard for ousting unrelated businesses that are already profiting in locations that Walgreen's finds to be desirable...but that's another story.

I guess this is why I shy away from the world of sales, especially among big, recognized brand names. Even if you sell a product you believe in, it seems that simply offering a good quality, reasonably priced item isn't enough any more. Now, you must be cutthroat. Now, in order to survive, you must be enemies with the other businesses who bear a resemblance to you.

Has it always been this way? It seems that towns used to be big enough for two general stores. Maybe they each had a niche; perhaps one offered a specialty item that the other did not, or received shipments of like items at different times. Has that changed? In this ever-available, increasingly cruel marketing world that caters to fickle consumerism, is it possible that unkind backstabbing is the only way to survive?

No. I refuse to believe that. I'm going to keep on intentionally shopping small, local, American-made companies that have morals and class. And when I am able to say "No" to the jerks? I'm gonna. I urge you to do the same. Vote with your dollars, even if it's a bit more expensive or slightly less convenient. If you're anything like me, you'll feel better about your choices.