Topic: Christmas

So, Let’s consider: Xmas shopping in the land of covid 0



So, Let’s consider: Xmas shopping in the land of covid

Well, it’s the first week of October! You know what that means, right? Yup, it’s time to start shopping for Christmas!

Frankly, I think all these stores bringing out all their xmas trinkets at the end of July is more than a bit overboard, overpowering, over uncalled for and in general over annoying. When I walk into a place like Walmart this morning and see rows and rows stacked full to the top with all kinds of xmas BS, I’m wondering why someone hasn’t done a terrorist act on the place for over merchandising the Winter Solstice. Frankly, it was a serious temptation.

This year brings with it the added concerns of how local, perhaps smaller, businesses are going to survive it to Thanksgiving, let alone the Winter Solstice celebration. And, I find myself asking: “What’s more important, making Jeff Bezos richer by shopping on Amazon or the Walmart family by shopping at Walmart stores…or is it more important to do what I can to help the local businesses through their covid struggles to survive?” I think the answer is simple: The locals win.

So, this year is going to be a bit different. Look to your local businesses for gift certificates. You may even have to ask for them as this may be a new product line that they’ve not thought of before. Look for your local bookstores, eating or drinking establishments, specialty stores, corner grocers, theaters, art stores, hobby and craft stores, even your local mechanic! Hey, everyone’s going to need an oil change SOMETIME next year! Get creative.

If you’re a small merchant, business, eating establishment, or whatever, be thinking about how you can market gift certificates for people to use your establishment creatively and in a means that would make for an acceptable and welcomed gift for them to give to someone else to have.

Now, I’ll also expand this to small business that may not be in your neighborhood. Personally I’ve dealt with a family owned and run bakery in Baltimore for years. Every year I call Maria Voccaro at Voccaro’s bakery for my panetone’s and cookies. They’re a family run group in Baltimore that I’ve dealt with for over 30 years and I’m not going to stop now. I use them as an example but all of us know of a small, local or not so local, that we can send our business to in this time of mutual need. We need our small businesses to survive. Small business is by far the largest portion of employment our country has. And, they need us as much as we need them.

Perhaps with our help this year, they’ll still be around next.

I’m Don Rima and that’s the view From Where I Stand.


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So, Let's consider: How can you have a safe online shopping experience during the holidays and the rest of the year? 1





So, Let’s consider: How can you have a safe online shopping experience during the holidays and the rest of the year?

So, once again, we find ourselves in the last week or 2 before xmas and it’s time to hit the internet and see what we need to buy. Or, you could be one of the smart ones that is doing their shopping earlier to make sure that things actually arrive when they’re supposed to… Then again, you could be shopping in the middle of April for some items that you need and you want to make sure you’re not going to get snookered (yes it’s a word!) online by some nepharious website, pricing scheme, or some other schemer that isn’t in your best interest.
So, What are a few things we can do to having a fighting chance on the wild world web? Let’s take a look at a few:

Watch out for false advertising.

Does it sound too good of a deal to be true? It just might be. Also be aware of look alike web pages that are designed to look just like the real thing. Watch for subtle differences like name changes or misspellings and always be careful for being redirected to another web page when you think you’re buying from something authentic.
Look over the website carefully.

Only shop on secure websites.

By secure websites, I mean sites that don’t send all your information in the clear for everyone to monitor. A secure site’s url will begin with HTTPS:// ….not just HTTP://…. And, NEVER use your credit card on a site that isn’t using a HTTPS page nor give any of your personal information on a page that’s not HTTPS protected. If you’re not familiar with a site that you want to use, checkout their BBB profile at BBB.org.

Is your antivirus current?

If your antivirus protection isn’t current don’t even think of shopping on the net until it is. By not protecting yourself you leave yourself open to all kinds of problems from non-secured sites and those sites that love to go phishing for your personal information.

What are the return policies?

Frankly, there are those that will buy anything and everything on the net. Frankly, I’m a bit more picky. Especially for clothing, if I can’t see it and feel it and know that it’s going to fit I don’t want to buy it. This is one of the reasons I like JC Penney brick and mortar stores over anyone’s web page. And when I buy cloths or other things over the net, it’s because I know what I’m buying and it’s what I’m looking for.
BUT, not everyone is that hard core when it comes to buying stuff on the net and, face it, there’s going to be times when you either get the wrong stuff, wrong size, wrong colour shades, etc., or you just don’t like the damn thing and want to send it back! Make sure you can and how you can BEFORE you buy. Many major chains with a web presence will let you bring a return into the local store for return or exchange. Frankly, I really like this option. Yet for some others, you’re going to have to call their return center is some 3rd world country to get a return authorization and instructions…and hope you can understand what they’re saying.

Always pay by credit card!

Many issues and problems with returns can be easily dealt with if you paid with a major credit card. If the vendor isn’t responsive to your issues, just call the card company and talk to them about the transaction. It’s amazing how fast a vendor will return your call when they get a complaint from a credit card company, especially when they realize that their transaction is being canceled. Also, a credit card protects you from other fraud potential issues, currency exchange manipulations if what you’re buying is in a different currency than your own, etc. And I said CREDIT CARD….do NOT use a debit card or wire someone funds unless you REALLY know and trust the target. Getting problems fixed with those types of transactions can be a lot harder to do…at least to do to your satisfaction.

What’s the price and are there any special promotions going on?

Everyone’s going to claim they have the best price of the item because they want your sale. Do your own research. That’s what Google’s for! Further, it’s normal and regular for vendors to have seasonal sales, loyalty awards bonuses, etc. Look for them. When they exist, avail yourself of them!

Watch out for phishing scams.

These generally come in the form of unwanted or unsolicited emails sending you to a website that you may have never heard of. Caveat emptor! And, in a big way! Some of these may claim to have something free just for you, or have just what you’re looking for. BE CAREFUL. Search engines and web trafficking monitors can and do keep track of what you’re searching for and buying. This information is available for a price and it can and will be used in marketing schemes against you.
Be careful about unwanted phone calls from high pressure people that have exactly what you’re wanting. Especially if you’ve never heard of them and more so if they’re calling from off shore on a poor quality phone connection. Chances are their name’s NOT Joe and they don’t work for State Farm!

Those emotional appeals for donations.

Well, I’ve covered this before, but, be prepared for all those phone calls and the tonnes of junk mail from every worthy cause that thinks you should be donating to them. Frankly, I have my own list of charities that I support each year and I’m not opposed to adding to them if and when I find something I want to support. And, neither should you. However there’s a few things to be aware of:
Watch out for the hyper emotional appeals. These are intentional and designed to maximize your wallet emptying.
Does the charity disclose how it’s using your donations? If not, then don’t give them anything.
Watch out for charities that may sound like a well known and trusted one, but aren’t. Name similarities abound like apples in the summer, make sure you aren’t getting one with a worm in it. The BBB’s wise giving alliance (www.give.org) is one of many good places to start looking to verify a group you may not be familiar with.
Fortunately, the world is generally full of good people wanting to do good business and help their fellow man, regardless of the time of the year. Yet following that old Reagan adage of “Trust but verify” is always a good policy to have.

I’m Don Rima and that’s the view From Where I Stand.


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So, Let's consider: Family connections during the holidays. 0





So, Let’s consider: Family connections during the holidays.

Folks, I urge you to view this powerful video. It says more than I ever could about family and the holidays.

I’m Don Rima and that’s the view From Where I Stand.


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So, Let's consider: 'Tis the Season – for Shysters 0





So, Let’s consider: ‘Tis the Season – for Shysters

Well, it’s that time of year again… Somewhere shortly after the last of the fireworks have gone out on the 4th of July and and frequently by July 5th, you’ll start seeing every store from Walmart to your local drug store starting to bring out their xmas schlock and reminding you how few days it is until “Christmas”. And they’ll be pounding that drum until the champagne starts flowing on New Year’s Eve. Forget that there’s 6 months of holidays yet to come and that the historical and Biblical records are overly clear that the overly marketed fat jolly elf of December 25th has nothing to do with the birth of the Christ Child, you’re going to be inundated with all kinds of crap that you just can’t live without buying for “The Season”…history and logic be damned.
Along with these shysters will come a more sinister group of shysters that just as predictably show up every year wanting your money. These are the shysters that have prey on the good hearted people wanting to help others. These are they shysters that tell you how much good your donation to their cause is going to do for the world. How blessed you will be once your fork over your cash to them and their cause celeb or foundation or whatever buzz word will get you to part with your money. And, of course, little to none of your cash will get to where it’s supposed to go.
Now, I’m not stupid enough to not fully understand that there’s an abundance of well meaning and credible organizations of good will towards mankind out there, but there’s just as many organizations that are more interested in their own good will than helping the homeless people down the street.
This season I would encourage you to be generous with your giving, but I would also encourage you to be vigilant with whom you give to. Giving to help others not only shouldn’t be just one day a year, it should also be to those methods and organizations that actually are interested in doing good for their fellow man versus lining their own pockets, and that do so throughout the year as well. Preferably ones with a good existing record of having done so in the past.
Remember, the homeless guy down the street needs as much to eat on September 30 as he does on December 25th.
This year, please be generous, but also, be smart about your giving…and remember that generosity is needed 365 days a year.

I’m Don Rima and that’s the view From Where I Stand.


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So, Let's consider: Wisdom from the Grinch on Christmas 0





So, Let’s consider: Wisdom from the Grinch on Christmas

It’s Christmas morning. And, I offer these words of wisdom for you to consider on this day:
“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”
— Dr. Seuss
I’m Don Rima and that’s the view From Where I Stand.


So, Let's consider: What do you say to a friend that's just gotten the bad news? 0





So, Let’s consider: What do you say to a friend that’s just gotten the bad news?

So, it’s the Christmas season. The time where everyone is supposed to be bright, happy and of good cheer…
I got a ping from an old friend that they’d been admitted to the hospital for some tests. Our families have known each other for several generations and since the tests were taking a while and it’d been some time since I’d seen them, I wandered down for a visit. We talked for a while, the hospital doctor came in and tried his best to act competent. After he left we talked some more until I felt it was best that I left and let them get some much needed rest.
Shortly after I left, the doctor returned with the test results. It wasn’t good news. It was cancer…and in a big way.
Now, I’ve had 2 major death diagnosis in my life, and my father and I were both given cancer diagnosis within 2 weeks of each other back in 2001. He’s no longer with us. But what do you say to someone that’s never been in a hospital and just had a tonne of lead dropped on them? …and at Christmas…?
Simply: there’s hope for your future. Not that there’s some magic bullet cure, but that there’s hope in the reason we have the Christmas season. The same scriptures that lead us to the Christmas season also tell us in John 3:16 that we have a future if we believe in the person who’s life and gift we celebrate at this time of year…regardless of when the Christ child was actually born. “For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son, that whosoever believes on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life…” This doesn’t mean that we’re not going to die in this life, but that we have hope in the next.
I’m not going to tell you I have all the answers. I don’t. In fact, I have way more questions than I have answers. But I believe there’s hope.
Many of us have been lead by preachers and self proclaimed theologians that we need to believe and practice the way they prescript. Frankly, I rejected that long ago. The only thing that matters is your own walk and relationship with your friend and savior. And I don’t think it’s really as complex as most organized religions would like us to think. I firmly believe that those that seek will be led in the path that is theirs to walk.
If you get the chance, pick up a copy of Tim Jennings’ book “Could it be this simple”. And get ready to unlearn and relearn a lot of what hope lies in your future. Hope really is that simple.
So, remember, there’s hope…and that’s the REAL reason for the season….
I’m Don Rima and that’s the view From Where I Stand.


So, Let's consider: Staying Healthy Through The Holidays 0





So, Let’s consider: Staying Healthy Through The Holidays

Well, once again, it’s that Happy Merry Partying time of year! And, we’ll all be doing our best to eat and drink and be as happily merry as we can. But, there can be some major health implications to over doing it… So, let’s look at a few things that we can do to maybe help all of your celebrations to be good ones.
Think Moderation
This time of year it’s so incredibly to over do on so many things. So when you see that incredible layout of food, save some for someone else. You don’t have to go back for that third round and it’s sometimes good to be able to see some plate showing under all those layers of chow. Just because Santa is over stuffed doesn’t mean you need to be or should be. Let your comfort fill level be your guide and let Santa be the one with the over stuffed belly…or, pillow. And, don’t forget to eat the salad. Focus on the foods that you enjoy the best during the season and it’s also good to experiment with some new ones if the opportunity presents itself.
Same thing goes for drinking. This is the time of year that the bubbly flows…and flows… But knowing your limit is key to having the best time of the season that you can. Give serious consideration to alternatives to drink. Things like soft drinks, juices, good ole water with a twist on ice, there’s so many options that have you feeling great at the end of the evening versus dreading the rays of the sun in the morning. Also, stay hydrated if you’re drinking. Alcohol can raise havoc with your fluid and electrolyte levels, to some water, juice, even a hit or 2 from your favorite sports drink are definitely in order during the party season.
Set some goals and keep them
We all have some history we can look back on, so look back at it. Some of the things you did in the partying past you wouldn’t do again, so don’t. Some things were cool – so do them again. Know your limits and keep them.
There’s other things you need to set some goals on and well talk about them next.
Exercise and Fresh Air
Set and keep your fitness goals. If you’re already in a program, be it your own or otherwise organized, stay with it. If you don’t have one, get or make one. Something as simple as a nice walk in the fresh air can do some incredible wonders for your body and outlook on life. Take your mutt for a walk with a glass of fresh squeezed homemade lemonade or even a nice cup of joe! You’ll both enjoy the outdoors.
Take your vitamins
Even though you’re eating a lot, make sure that you stay balanced from a nutritional standpoint. Most of us take some form of a supplement or another and now’s not the time to take a vacation from that. If you have a concern about your proper nutrient intakes, well, that’s a great thing to be talking with your family doctor about.
Monitor Holiday Stress
For some it’s having to deal with that total idiot relative that you have to go visit during the season, for others it’s past memories or something else, but regardless of what, this time of season also brings it’s own variety of stressors. Don’t let them get the best of you. It’s easy to take them out on either how much you eat or drink so be careful and understand what’s happening to you and why. If you’re having to deal with an issue, consider how much you’re eating or drinking and adjust it to your best and most healthful benefit. If you think the stressors and issues are more than you can handle, well, talk to your health professional or clergy. Help’s there, all you need to do is ask for it.
If you over imbibe, DON’T DRIVE!
It’s just too easy to have one too many at this time of year. Please, know when to say when. Further, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking a cab home (or TO the party as well for that matter) or asking a sober friend to drive for you. This isn’t an ego issue, we all want YOU to be around for the next holiday season! And, part of that is your responsibility as well…
Here’s hoping you have the happiest and merriest holiday season and that we’ll see you next year!
I’m Don Rima and that’s the view From Where I Stand.


Holiday Toy Shopping – Some Ideas To Make Life Easier … 0






Holiday Toy Shopping – Some Ideas To Make Life Easier …
OK, so we’re being inundated already with everyone out there schlepping their schlock for you to buy as gifts for people that for some reason you think you should be buying stuff for at this time of year. For some reason lemmings come to mind. October is hardly over any already you can’t walk through Walmart because the aisles are just over filled with xmas schlock that someone from Arkansas thinks you should be spending your money on.
So, I’ve picked up a few ideas that may be able to help you endure the rites of the season when it comes to getting what you’re wanting for those that you’re wanting it for…
GET THE HOT STUFF EARLY. Yeah, vendors know what’s hot and they’re sure to make sure the prices are highest earlier in the season but if it’s something you need for your list, your best advised to get it while the getting is good. Beating the rush will also let you get in and out of stores with a minimum of battle fatique.
Consider store services. Many stores, including the ubiquitous Walmarts, Targets, Sears, etc., offer local pickup for online purchases. Some use these services for groceries and perishables, but the same service is also available for most anything they sell. If you don’t want to risk a package being left on your front door or having UPS drop your package off at a house you haven’t lived at for a long time, ask the vendor if they have in store pickup. It can also save you time standing in line especially if you’re dealing with a place like Walmart which never seems to have more than 3 lines open for checkout.
Consider layaway. This can be be a good way to lock in a purchase for later pickup and/or payment, thus assuring you have what you need when you need it, especially if you don’t have the cash or credit line to buy it now…or if you just don’t want the little monsters sniffing around boxes to see what the Easter Bunny is going to put under the tree. Yeah, I said Easter Bunny – he’s as real as Santa is…. No, I’m not against Christmas. I just think it’s an over hyped, over marketed day of the year that tends to last for three months each year. I’m one that thinks the TRUE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT is one that should be practiced 365 days a year, regardless of what day in December it is. Perhaps I’m odd that way.
Watch your sales. Many times stores have “sales” which amount to little more than telling you they’re selling something that you already know they’re selling, but the price really hasn’t changed if at all. Be a smart shopper. Compare shopping to the max! Just because stores blast you with “SALE!” doesn’t mean the price has been lowered, it just means they’re selling stuff and have stuff for “sale”. Caveat emptor!
Use the online services like Amazon, Craigslist, etc. Make sure you’re careful who you buy from and I would suggest you use a credit card as much as possible to give you an additional buffer of security if there’s an issue with the purchase. You may even find something in those ever more frequent and annoying spam “suggested postings” on things like Facebook. Gold is where you find it. These items also generally arrive in a generic brown package so the little monsters have less of a chance of knowing what’s really inside.
So, sit back, relax, pop open a cold one and let your fingers do the walking…or maybe your mouse.
And a Happy Humbug to one and all…may the Good Lord bless us all…every one… 🙂
I’m Don Rima and that’s the view From Where I Stand.


Hey Walmart – It's not even November! REMOVE THE XMAS CRAP! 0




Hey Walmart – It’s not even November! REMOVE THE XMAS CRAP!

Ok, so I’m wandering into my local Walmart this morning to snag a paper and some items. It’s October 29. Not even Halloween! Thanksgiving (A REAL Holiday) is weeks away!
So, what’s the FIRST THING I see? Rows and rows and rows of xmas crap! It’s OCTOBER! GEEZUZ people!
Can you say OVER MERCHANDISING???? Can you say TOTALLY DISCUSTING!?
Now we all KNOW that there’s NO Biblical or historical basis for the Christ child to have been born on December 25. That’s a matter of record! BUT WTF WALMART??? Why do you have to put all this xmas crap out in OCTOBER!???
Frankly, you and your ilk are removing ANY spirit of xmas that anyone had at this time of year or later. You’re OVER marketing, OVER selling,and in general just showing to the world once again that you really don’t care about the SPIRIT of xmas, you only care about how early you can start selling your schlock and making money off of people stupid enough to be buy your crap in OCTOBER!
How about waiting until we’ve at least finished our Halloween candy and put the damn turkey in the over!
I’m Don Rima and that’s the view From Where I Stand.