The Mysterious Case of the Former Friends

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Today is the 12th anniversary of Facebook.

 

This makes it the perfect day to discuss the disappearance of 2 people from my friends on Facebook.  Let me say that I knew both of these people in person and quite honestly I have no idea why either of them decided to unfriend me.

 

Unlike other posts, I will not disguise their names as I feel it is better to expose them for what they are rather than protect them.  People who leave without any explanation don’t deserve any protection as far as I am concerned.

 

First up is Norma Jean.  I have known her for over 30 years, actually since junior high school.  I was never overly friendly with Norma Jean as we had different circles of friends.  My friends were a cross section of jocks and smart people for the most part.  Her friends were more of the lower class bunch.  She hung around the bullies and troublemakers.

 

For the most part, I tried hard to stay away from these people as they were always getting into trouble and most had nothing to do with me.  Unfortunately, there were a couple of times where I ended up in classes with some of these lower lives along with Norma Jean herself.

 

After high school, I (thankfully) lost track of everyone from my graduation class.  When I came onto Facebook in mid-2006, Norma Jean became one of the early people who wished to friend me.  Reluctantly, I accepted her friend request as I thought that after so many years, people would have changed and matured, but with people like her, I was mistaken.

 

While I did have a couple of online comment sessions with her, I always felt that she really was not interested in anything I said.  So I believe out of boredom, she decided to unfriend me.  A few months later, I confronted her online in a mutual friend’s post as to why she unfriended me.  She seemed to blow it off and didn’t give me an answer.  Apparently, she has not changed in over 30 years. I have declined to friend a couple of people from high school as I felt that those people would unfriend me as well because they were part of the same bullying group.

 

However, the most bizarre unfriending happened over the past week, with my now apparent former friend Bridget.  She and I became friends while we both worked at Staples.

 

During her time at Staples, it was apparent that Bridget had social problems.  She never really seemed to get along with many of the associates, managers and most importantly the customers.  It was this type of attitude that made her be called into the manager’s office for one of their “little talks”.  These talks never really seemed to help and she seemed to always get a little meaner and ruder with each passing day.

 

I am not saying that she overall was a bad person; we always seemed to get along as we both had similar feelings toward people in general.  She always seemed like a rollercoaster of emotions, one minute happy the next angry and the following giggly.  Overall, she was rude to people as she did not seem to have the words “please” or “thank you” in her vocabulary.

 

I think this type of disrespect has more to do with her upbringing, sort of like how Norma Jean treated me.  Unfortunately this type of rudeness continued when she became one of the earliest people to friend me on Facebook.

 

Rarely did I ever make a comment to any of her postings, but when I did I was either ignored or never acknowledged for it.  For someone who was a friend of mine at work, I really thought that she would have a little more respect, but apparently I was very wrong.

 

Everything seemed to be fine, up until this last week when surprisingly decided to unfriend me.  I have absolutely no idea why she unfriended me as I have not had any conversations with her online in weeks.  So this was certainly a headscratcher at best.

 

I will probably never find out the true reason why either of these women unfriended me, but all indications point to the fact that both shared a common rudeness, which is not the type of indication of what a real friend is.

 

Overall, let me point out that I found out about these people unfriending me by using a plugin to the Chrome browser (also available for Firefox as well).  Without using a tool like this, both of these women could have remained anonymous in their unfriending of me.

 

But in the world of the internet, you can run but can never hide.

 

Maybe both of these rude people should go and hide forever if they have no respect for me anymore.

A Tale of 2 Cable Companies and 2 Email Accounts

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In the last couple of weeks, my gmail account has been once again receiving strange emails. 

Some of them have been easy to unsubscribe to, others have taken much more effort to handle.

Such is the case with my experience with Comcast.  I do not live in an area where they service, but I have been receiving email from them indicating that I was a customer of theirs and they started to send me bills by email.

Unfortunately, there was no unsubscribe link in their email so I had to reach them by Facebook by posting to their corporate page.  After a couple of days, they contacted me back and said my email was removed from their system.

Or at least that was what I thought. 

The next day I received yet another bill from them and contacted them again using the same thread expressing my anger over them not fixing the problem.

The response that I got back from them was a link to their “Privacy Policy”.  This is hardly the type of response that I wanted especially given that I was not even a customer of theirs. 

I wrote back a third time and they had me send them a copy of my email to their email customer service.  Since I have not heard back from them in about a week,  I can only assume that the problem has been completely resolved.

Under NO circumstances should anyone have to go through so much trouble to opt out of their email especially since I was not their customer.  I guess they are no better than Time Warner Cable.

At least that is what one might be led to believe.

Over the last week, Time Warner’s webmail service allegedly got hacked into.   According to reports, approximately 300,000 accounts were compromised and those customers were notified by email and postal mail.  However, I never received either so I have to assume that my account wasn’t part of the hacking.

I am not really surprised over this given how inferior their email system is compared to more modern email systems like gmail and outlook.  What makes the product inferior is that the interface is old and limits customers to 1gb of storage and the number of emails that can be blocked are limited and once you reach that limit, the spammers can send you all the email they want and you cannot block them.  Certainly not the way any system should ever operate.  To make matters worse, the email system does not have a mobile version. In this day and age, this is just about a requirement for any website.

Since I did not get a notification from the company, I decided not to change my password because it was strong enough already.  At least I think I am still fairly safe with this account for now. 

Overall, it appears that both cable companies have failed along with 2 email systems as well. 

If this type of crap continues, this is going to be a VERY long year.

Predictions of 2015 and 2016

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It is now 2016 and that time of year where the predictions are made.

 

First a quick look back at 2015.  To be honest, 2015 will be known as the year of being ignored, not just a little bit but by virtually everyone I knew and the public in general.  Am I really that invisible?  Last time I checked I still was somewhat visible.  Hopefully, 2016 will be a better year, but so far it has not been any better.

 

2016 also marks what would have been my 20th anniversary with Staples.  Unfortunately, I never even made it to the 13th year before I was terminated.  Looking back now I am sort of glad that I was terminated before the company collapsed.

 

Speaking of companies collapsing, I also had 2 other jobs back in 1996 as well.  I was terminated from Woolworth in March of that year and I worked at HQ for 7 weeks during the summer of that year.  Both companies were gone by mid-1997 and I escaped both before they fell.  Staples seem to follow suit as they are not doing very well today.  During the coming year, I will reflect on 20 years ago and give some insight into what really happened back then.

 

Now onto the predictions of 2015 where last year, I said that only 2 of my predictions would come true.  Let’s see how I did.  The results are in bold parenthesis.

 

  • The merger of Time Warner Cable and Comcast will be placed on hold as both companies would have to discharge some of their market holdings. (The possibly of this merger was dissolved.)
  • The possibility of a Staples/Office Max (Depot) merger is canned as neither side can agree on any merger details. (This merger is still in government negotiation.)
  • Given no merger, Office Max (Depot) shuts down at least half of their remaining locations.  (This did not happen.)
  • As well, Staples shuts down an additional 300 stores as the hack attack of 2014 grows larger.  (This did not quite happen—they shut down stores but not nearly that number.)
  • On the brink of bankruptcy, RadioShack is saved by a last-minute investor who wants to merge it with another big box retailer. (This did now quite happen but there are still some independent stores remaining.)
  • Walmart suffers a major hack attack, which causes millions of credit and debit cards to be compromised.  (This did not happen.)
  • The E! Network finally cancels everything Kardashian as the network struggles to survive.  (This did not happen.)
  • Adam West, TV’s 1960’s Batman, will be the voice of an aged Bruce Wayne on an episode of the Fox series “Gotham”.  (As far as I know, this did not happen.)
  • California will suffer a substantial earthquake in the area north of Los Angeles.  (This did not happen.)
  • Keystone pipeline will be defeated in Congress.  (This did happen.)
  • MTV will cancel “Eye Candy”.  (This did happen.)
  • My ex Tanya will get a divorce and return back to Maine wanting to search me out and try and patch things up. Of course, I accept (what choice do I have?).  (This only happened in my dreams or nightmares.)
  • I will either get a new job or a new girlfriend in 2015, but not both.  (I got neither but the girlfriend was closer to getting.)

Overall, I got 2 right and 2 half right so this could be called 3 right – one more than I had predicted.

So what does this year’s crystal ball have to offer—let’s gaze into it.

  • The Dow will slip to a low of 9,000.
  • JCPenney will file for bankruptcy and close all its stores.
  • Sears/Kmart will close at least half of their remaining locations before going out of business by year’s end.
  • OfficeDepot/OfficeMax will shut all their locations to allow Staples to buy the company and satisfy the government.
  • Playboy will have centerfolds again by September after suffering a huge drop in readers and its main focus will be on getting celebrities to pose for the pictures.
  • Nickelodeon will replace all its programming with imported teen shows similar to what happened to Teen Nick over the past few years.
  • Star Wars 8 will be delayed as a major accident on the set causes filming to cease.
  • The Muppets will not see a second season.
  • The Voice gets cancelled.
  • A new format superseding Blu-ray will be introduced, but will fail as it will not be embraced.
  • MTV, CMT and VH1 will merge into one station.
  • Windows 10 will experience a widespread update problem that causes updates to fail for weeks.
  • Kylie and Kendall Jenner will both get pregnant.

So those are my 13 predictions for the new year.  I predict that 4 of them will happen this year.  I am hedging my bet that my above average will carry over to this year.  We will check back next year to find out the results.

 

2015 in review

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,300 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 38 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

The End of the Year Now

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This week instead of some long winding post, I have decided to make this short and simple.

Yes, not every topic was covered this year.  Many events came up that were preferred to discuss than the topics that I had planned.  This does not mean that these topics have been forgotten, rather just been pushed to a later date.

I have some big plans for both blogs in 2016, which I don’t want to spoil now.  However, I do plan on keeping on alternate weeks between both blogs with an occasional posting appearing in both blogs.  An example of that will appear in January as I do my annual crystal ball predictions.  Hopefully, I will have done better at predicting this year than last year.

Finally, I would like to wish everyone a happy holiday season and I will be back in January with a new post. However, if WordPress does the automated year-end review, I will post this in my blogs before year’s end, otherwise you have about 3 weeks without me.

Hopefully, you don’t miss me too much!

The Most Wonderful Time of Year?

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Note:  This week’s post is being presented in both blogs as I feel it is important to interest all my audiences.

 

This SHOULD be the most wonderful time of year for retailers as many of them bask in the profits of all their hard work leading up to this time of year.

 

However, that idea of SHOULD for many is more like NEVER.

 

Just ask employees at the 13 Tim Horton’s locations that suddenly closed up here in Maine a couple of weeks ago.  No warning just closed down all from Waterville down to Kittery, Maine including two here in the South Portland area.

 

Or you could ask those people who work at the Gap stores in the Bangor Mall or Maine Mall about their future as these stores will be closing in mid-January.  I know that closing the one at the Maine Mall will leave a huge GAP (pardon the pun) in one whole section of the mall.  I doubt that will be filled anytime soon.

 

Speaking of vacancies, the Friday before the Black Friday, our family decided to take our annual trip to 3 New Hampshire malls in one day.  It seems that every year this trip gets shorter and shorter because the stores just keep getting worse and worse as I will explain.

 

The day started heading to the furthest location first of the Pheasant Lane Mall in Nashua NH.  This mall usually takes a little time to get through as it is a 2 story mall and doing 2 levels take a little time.  This mall has changed very little from last year’s visit and it is the only mall on my trip that still had an open RadioShack store, although there were no customers in the store at the time nor could I find an employee in the store as I walked by it.  The store appeared well stocked given that this is one of about a third of its remaining stores.  Most all of the stores in this mall were of national names with only a couple of local shops within it.  This mall also appeared mostly occupied by stores with only a couple of small vacancies, including a couple of vacancies in the food court.  Overall, I spent about 2 hours in total at this mall.

 

We then headed to the Mall of New Hampshire in Manchester.  This mall takes almost as long to get through even though it is a single story mall because it is so large.  No sign of RadioShack could be found where it used to be, but the area is now occupied by a women’s clothing store.  The area near the center court, which last year had a then-vacant Disney Store now has been completely remodeled and now houses a shiny Apple Store.  A section just to the right of that location is vacant, which along with a couple of others are the only vacancies in this mall.  Most of the stores in this mall were of name brand national stores with only a couple local retailers in there.  All together probably spent about an hour and half at this mall, which is about average for a mall of this size and stores that I really wanted to visit.  However, one store missing in this mall that was in the other 2 malls I visited was a FYE store.  Apparently if you were looking for videos then Best Buy is your only choice at this mall.

 

Finally, we headed back to the Portsmouth area to wind up our shopping trip.  Before arriving in the Portsmouth area, we stopped at the Target in Greenland, which is about 5 miles or so from the rest of the Portsmouth shopping area.  Certainly not what I would call close at least not as close as what I am used to around where I live in Maine.

 

When we arrived in Portsmouth (actually Newington area), I noticed that the Kmart in one the plazas, which was vacant last year, still has not seen a new occupant since.  Our first stop was the Fox Run Crossing shopping area.  This area, which years ago was known as the Newington Mall, is lined with stores like Best Buy, Barnes & Noble, Staples, and Kohl’s.  I visited the first 3 stores but didn’t walk all the way down to Kohl’s, even the distance is no further from one end to the other as when it used to be a full indoor mall.  Maybe I am just getting way too old to walk that far anymore.

 

I purchased my annual diary and calendar at Staples down there, my only purchase that I ever make with that company anymore only because they are the only store that carries it, otherwise I would never do any business with them.  Overall, I spent about an hour shopping at all 3 stores that I wished to visit in this plaza.

 

It was then off around the block to the Fox Run Mall.  Needless to say that this mall created the most shock of any mall I visited on my trip.  Gone from this mall was one of the few CVS stores located in malls that I ever visit.  This store was always busy and surprised to see it gone.  In its place was a boarded up area with an indication that H&M store would be coming soon in the “Fall 2015”.  If my indication is right, they probably missed that date and possibly not even coming to the mall at all.  Unfortunately, for this mall, there are several boarded up vacancies with no indication of any new tenants coming in.  The only place not boarded up is the spot where RadioShack was, just a curtain covering the opening of the store with a bench sitting in front of it.  A couple of other late stores in this mall still look like their past tenants, but have new tenants.  One which is a sport memorabilia store occupies the old Suncoast Motion Picture Company store that vacated about 5 years ago and it has never been remodeled.  Walking by this store reminds me of just how much money I used to spend in this video store over the years…oh the memories there.  The other non-remodeled store is the now vacant GM Pollack jewelry store now occupied by a local store selling cellphone accessories.   Overall, this mall is about 1/3 local stores, 1/3 national stores, and 1/3 approximately vacant.  This sort of split is reminiscent of how the Newington Mall was before it died and was eventually razed.  If the Fox Run Mall doesn’t get more national retailers, I see it getting the same fate.  Overall, I spent a mind-numbing 20 minutes in this mall as it offered nothing to really shop in except a lot of disappointment.

 

So overall, the trip saw a lot of changes but to the average shopper would also present a lot of disappointment in some of the shopping areas.

 

This leads me to the next idea of what happened on Black Friday.  Word is that nationally retail sales were down about 11% from the previous year (or for those keeping track about 25% over the last 3 years total).  It is understandable why this is happening:  no good places to shop and those that are good just didn’t have in stock what people want.

 

From my own experience over the 3 day shopping weekend, I found no problems parking at the local Target, Walmart, and at the Maine Mall nor did I find any of the 3 places overly busy when I arrived to each in the early afternoon.  Walmart was the least busy even to the point that I was able to park about 10 rows up from the entrance.  Of course, the couple of things that I wanted to buy was readily available for purchase in substantial quantities even though they were advertised specials.  So either, the stores didn’t sell that much or had more inventory than they expected to.

 

This leads to the question of what happened this year.  Of course most people are shopping online and buying in store as a last resort.  This could spell curtains for struggling retailers who need to do well this year or will end up in the history books.

 

However, there are some signs of stores that won’t make it another year.  For example, JCPenney, which for years, have advertised free Disney snow globes to their early customers announced this year would be the last year of that program.  Apparently they may be thinking that this will be their final holiday season.  Other stores at risk include the previously mentioned Gap, which may close even more stores, Sears/Kmart (closing more stores), and Staples, which continues to shed stores to save themselves and prepare for a possible merger with OfficeMax/OfficeDepot.

 

Finally, I would like to mention that I really have not missed leaving retail 6 years ago.  After spending nearly 25 years in retail, I am seeing that retail as we know it is quickly falling apart and as I have written in the past malls are becoming a thing of the past.  It would be sad for people of today to tell their grandchildren of how retail of today becomes obsolete tomorrow just like downtown retail of 40 years ago no longer exists.

 

For everyone, what used to be the most wonderful time of year is no longer as such anymore?

 

But the real question is:  Is it too late to get back to old-fashioned retail again?

 

I believe it is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taking a Break

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No post this week.  I will return in about 2 weeks with a new post.  Enjoy the holiday week ahead.

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