My normal schedule has been put badly out of kilter this last week and probably the one to come will be out of whack as well. I think the weather may have affected our computer service because Saturday and part of Sunday it was so incredibly slow it was frustrating just to try to read e-mail. We do our grocery shopping on Monday's and don't do as much on the computer as we otherwise would. But this week and next we also have medical appointments and had to take Mom's car in for repair when the window motor decided it no longer wanted to work. I am just beginning to catch up with my news and blog sites. On the shopping front, we decided patronize the local Wal-Mart Supercenter since we needed a couple of things from the garden center and we were looking for new drapes to replace the pair in our bedroom. Might as well do it all at once and check out the prices at the same time. Our assessment--We would not save any money by going to Wal-Mart. Only a few items were cheaper than those at our much closer supermarket and those were more than counter-balanced by the more expensive items. Worse they did not have the kind of drapes we wanted. We also noticed a definite reduction in the variety of items at Wal-Mart. Interestingly an American living in Japan looks at a similar scene somewhat differently. I guess it really is a matter of perspective.
I have been thinking for several years now about sustainable living and frugality. This Australian Mom makes points that reflect my thinking on much of this. I have described our society as 'gluttonous.' I think there were good reasons why gluttony was one of the seven deadly sins. It is wasteful when people consume more than they need. Gluttonous consumption encourages envy in those who cannot consume on a gluttonous scale and envy was another of the deadly sins. It is also thoughtless. We don't really think about what it is we are consuming. Instead of condemning the sin of gluttony our society/economy encourages it. We are constantly exhorted to buy. After 9/11 spending became synonymous with patriotism. Breaking the mind sets and habits of gluttonous consumption are hard. We are making a start. We try to remember to cut the power to the computers and the tv. We don't use the air conditioning much unless the outside temperatures hit the mid 90s or higher. In the winter we keep the thermostat at 70 because that makes the average temperature in our apartment around 68. We figure that we can put on a sweater or use one of our lap blankets if we get too cold. Our trips by car have been consolidated and are absolutely necessary. I like reading blogs on sustainability and frugality because they encourage me and give me ideas.
Are we in a recession or are we not? According to the news last night some 'experts' think not. I have long been bewildered by the disparity between my experience and perceptions and the economic news. For several years now Mom and I have watched as companies laid off thousands of highly paid workers but the unemployment rate barely bobbled and wondered where those workers found new jobs and at what pay. We watched the latest news about job cuts at Ford and wondered why the news readers didn't also note that Ford is opening a new plant in Mexico with 4000+ jobs for Mexican workers. Often we saw the stocks of companies announcing job cuts bounce much higher on the news so someone benefitted but definitely not those whose jobs were eliminated. Over the years we had our own economic indicators which seemed to be at odds with the official ones. For several months a couple of years ago, just when the gas prices spiked the last time, I had a second job at a little gas station. The last month I worked there, when prices were highest, I had four drive-off thefts on my shift. I know there were more from the talk of my fellow workers and the boss. We hadn't had one in the previous five months. During that time I also worked at a small party supply store. I had that job for nearly three years and during the first two we had no noticeable theft and no returned checks. That last year however we had several large checks returned for insufficient funds. My former boss told me that she was finally able to collect on the biggest one more than a year after the store closed and 18 months after it was passed. Not only did we have an increase in outright theft but a number of incidents of vandalism--as though the thief didn't really want the item but damaged it so that no one else would buy it. This blogger has noticed a similar pattern. And here is another story to emphasize this sign of the times.