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It's only a couple of weeks into the official definition of summer, but in terms of the traditional Memorial Day to Labor Day observance of summer, we're near the tipping point.  We've already hit the longest day of the year, and the ‘average' temperatures (at least for our area) tend to peak between now and around the 20th of the month.  I hope you've enjoyed summer so far, but make sure to enjoy those weekends.

Here are some random thoughts that have been piling up:

  1. McDonald's really doesn't care about this – A survey of satisfaction ratings in fast food restaurants was recently released, and McDonald's ranked dead last for the 20th year in a row.  Since the survey itself is only twenty years old, chances are this could go back even further.  In any case, while McDonald's representatives talk a good game about wanting to improve, the fact is that they have no real incentive to improve.  After all, they have the lead in so many fast food categories, what motivation would they really have?  The only way you'll ever see them really strive to get out of the cellar is if some other company really puts a dent in their sales or image.  Drive past any drive-thru line at just about any point in the day, and you'll see that McDonald's probably isn't all that worried.
  2. Same goes for Panama City, Florida – Years back, I spent the better part of a year on a work assignment in Panama City.  I really like it down there, and try to keep up with what's going on by reading the online local newspaper.  It cracks me up because every year, following Spring Break, there are numerous stories about how to clean up the image that they get as a ‘Spring Break' city and how they want to reduce the debauchery…only to have nothing change the following year.  Lip service at its best!
  3. Life Time Fitness redefines upscale – I recently joined Planet Fitness, which charges $10 per month.  There's a Life Time Fitness a couple of miles away that charges $77 per month.  I was apparently naive enough to think that was an ‘upscale' gym, but apparently I was wrong.  Life Time is now opening Life Time Athletic clubs, which are even fancier.  They charge $144 per month.  I wonder when people will figure out that the more you pay won't improve your results.  You still get what you give in terms of your work out.
  4. Blackberry lives on – Over two years ago, I predicted the demise of Blackberry.  While they definitely looked to be heading down that path, it now appears that my prediction was incorrect.  A new CEO seems to be turning the page, and they look to be redefining themselves toward a viable company.  They will never be the rulers of the smartphone industry again, but as that's no longer their primary goal, they can now focus their efforts on security, enterprise communications, and other areas that may not be as sexy, but can deliver results.
  5. Everything is cyclical, especially shopping centers – Recently, there have been some stories about malls in the Detroit area.  One closed for good a few years ago, and there are two others that are stressed.  Yet, at the same time, three new ‘outlet malls' are planned for the area.  I'm guessing that in 40 years, they'll be talking about the death of those malls.  Everything seems so temporary, but nothing more so than retail.
  6. I really hate mosquitoes (but they really love me) – The long winter followed by a pretty rainy spring and summer have made this one of the worst summers for mosquitoes on record.  As someone who mosquitoes love, I can attest to this.  In the past, I would apply bug spray after going out in the yard (or out of the camper if we're using that) and seeing that they were biting.  Now, if I'm planning on being outdoors for more than five minutes, the bug spray is on, no questions asked.
  7. Sandboxes drive me nuts – We got a sandbox for our kids.  Last year, we put it at the back edge of the yard, only to realize that being right up against the woods allowed for too many bugs, including yellowjackets that built underneath. This year, I moved it to a different location in the yard, and now it keeps leaking water.  The design doesn't make sense.  There are small cutouts on the side of both the sandbox and the lid, presumably to allow air, but this seems to be allowing water to trickle in. Not enough to turn it to mud, but enough to annoy me and also attract ants.  We spend more time airing it out to let the sand dry than the kids get to use it.  Frustrating.
  8. mb-2014-07elmNow I sort of understand the benefit of tree free neighborhoods – I've always hated the practice when a new subdivision goes in, and every tree is taken out.  Yet when we moved, we wanted a newer house.  We had the best of both worlds when we found a neighborhood with homes that we loved which also had a lot of original trees.  This has been great, but now all of our elm trees are being attacked by beetles.  I had one taken out two years ago, and now another one is dying.  This is the biggest tree on our property, and also overhangs our deck, so it has to be removed piece by piece.  I have a ‘tree guy' that I would use over and over again….the only problem is that I have to!  This will cost $700 for the removal and stump grinding.  I love having trees, but holy moly, it's getting expensive.  At least the people who buy those brand new houses without a tree in sight can plan on not having those types of costs…at least for the first 10-20 years until their planted trees mature

What's going on in your neck of the woods?