Tenn Talk

Marketing, Medicine and Dad - This side of the Mississippi.

Location: Tennessee

25 June 2004

WalMart Defends Sex Discrimination

Wal-Mart is involved in a massive class-action suit that includes 1.6 million women who are current and former employees. They claim that at all Wal-Marts women are paid less than men, that pay discrepancies exist in most job categories, and the salary gap widens over time. In addition, they claim that women take longer to enter management positions, and that the higher one looks in the organization, the lower the percentge of women.

Wal-Mart's attempts to portray each store as an independent decision-maker failed. So they offered this as a partial explanation for differences in wages:

"...some sales jobs require a gun license, while others pay a premium for workers skilled in handling live crickets sold for fishing."

Of course! Now I understand! It's the "cricket factor" -- HE earns more money than SHE because HE has the tough job of herding all those crickets. . . with a gun.

22 June 2004

Today's Library

I used to go to the library, check out some books, a music tape, and maybe a video. Then I'd head home, sit in my favorite chair and enjoy the book while listening to the music. Later, we'd watch the video. You went to the library, but went home to enjoy the benefits.

Today, going to the library IS the event. Lectures, discussion groups, book clubs, film festivals, community meetings, coffee and tables for brown baggers, live jazz quartets inside, and rock concerts in the plaza outside, art and craft exhibits and demonstrations, antique appraisal events, puppet shows for children, and so much more. If you can dream of it, today's library can probably facilitate it.

Libraries are not just humming with activity, they're bursting at the seams. Talking out loud is the norm as people are turning to the library for a wide variety of experiences. Of course, books and research will always be the backbone of the library. That's why the library has Internet access and reference librarians trained in use of search engines, and Books on Tape! Today's library is alive with activities, discoveries, the joy of learning, an intense spirit of inquiry, and a strong sense of community.

Today's library is a destination, not just a borrowing point. It IS the point. That's why we need a new central library in Downtown Knoxville.

18 June 2004

Broccoli Sprouts

Ah, broccoli sprouts. Let's just see how many Google searches that generates!

Got the urge to grow your own sprouts? Skip the broccoli. A 4-ounce packet of broccoli seeds for sprouting contains a billion seeds the size of poppy seeds.

After 10 days of soaking, rinsing, and draining, several of the specks had begun to sprout -- about the size of a hangnail. And no matter how well I rinsed them, the kitchen reeked of brocolli all day. I finally dumped them in a flowerpot. Darned if they aren't growing!

Since I only used a teaspoon of seeds, I 'll probably sprinkle the remaing gazillion seeds in the back garden and move on to the next packet. It's "zesty salad mix" that contains alfalfa, radish and wheat.

16 June 2004

Spammed if we do . . .

Spammed if we don't. The Federal Trade Commission told Congress not to waste their time creating a national do-not-spam registry. FTC explained that it would be too easy for spammers to break into the registry and send to spam to all those e-mail addresses.

15 June 2004


O.K. So there are about 135,000 US troops stationed in Iraq. But right now there are 1.4 million US troops on active duty. Where are they? They can't ALL be in Alabama! Is it possible that we could avoid reinstating the draft if we went up the lines of the existing military personnel. "They're trained, they're ready, and they're in cushy jobs" shouldn't be the motto of Today's US Armed Forces.

Grocery Store Mystery

Picnic tables for sale at Kroger. Not just the table -- but table, umbrella and 4 chairs -- all for $199.95. What are they thinking? Does the shopper's grocery list for the picnic read: hot dogs, hamburger, buns, pickles, mustard, and a $200 table set? Do you charge this purchase, or write a check? Do you need your Kroger discount card scanned first?

Just who is the target demographic? Yes, there are other impulse items at grocery stores like the ubiquitous UT shirts and the 99-cent mangos. But as much as I do NOT associate Kroger with outdoor furniture, I also do not consider lawn furniture an impulse purchase.

Yet Kroger must be selling them, and making quite a hefty profit or they wouldn't carry and promote them. Is Kroger saying: When I grow up I want to be like WalMart? Or is WalMart saying: See? I'm all grown up -- I now carry groceries?

There's a marketing rationale somewhere here that escapes me. There's also a Kroger merchandise manager somewhere making the picnic table decision. Maybe he's also the pickle guy. . .

14 June 2004

Between the Lines

I've tried to stop reading betwen the lines. But sometimes a newspaper article can just leave you hanging. But then there are those that just smack you in the nose. . .

The Washington Post reported on Colin Powell and a State Deptartment report that showed an incorrect decline in terrorist attacks since 9/11. Powell, claiming a "numbers error," denied that the administration tried to cook the books with false information. Powell is quoted as saying:
"We can't get away with that now. Nobody was out to cook the books."

'Scuse me? "We can't get away with that NOW!?!?" Just WHEN did they "get away with that?" Makes me want to go back over every report. . . oh never mind.

Then Powell ends with the note that the erroneous terrorist report was compiled by the Terrorist Threat Integration Center, a newly formed CIA clearinghouse. Hummm, the TTIC-- I'll be sure to add them to MY clearinghouse!

Am I missing something here?

Just how many troops are really in Iraq? The same numbers are published regularly: Out of a total of 135,000 US troops on active duty in Iraq, 40,000 are National Guard, plus 40,000 Army Reserve -- a total of 60% of the total US troops! -- leaving room for 55,000 regulary Army. This does not count how many "contractors" there are working in Army positions.

If anyone has different figures, I'd sure appreciate a heads up. A huge contingent of Army Reservists left town this morning for "an 18-month tour of duty in Iraq." 18 months?! I was under the impression that reserve and national guard units served only one year.

A Ronald Reagan Story

Dateline: Knoville - Opening Day of the 1982 World's Fair. President Reagan came to town to make 2 speeches. At the opening festivities on the Fair site Reagan spoke at length about the importance of Energy Research and Worldwide Cooperation. He then left and went across town to the Civic Center where an International Energy Symposium had convened with hundreds of representatives from around the world in attendence. There Regan spoke with delight about the wonderful World's Fair that would bring together people and families from all over the country to have fun and view the exhibitions.

Our local newspaper dutifully printed a transcript of BOTH speeches in case you were at the OTHER place than where you thought you were and heard what you didn't quite relate to at the time. But being polite Southerners, we all applauded just the same.

Dog Dictionary

A recent news article claims that dogs can understand up to 200 words! Well, it's summer school time for our crew! I plan to have them reading the Great Books by Christmas - just as soon as I finish taking them to the vet for their annual shots. (Small car, big dogs. We go one at a time.) While we haven't had a stray in months, we still have our basic 8:

Girlfriend - Giant black Schnauzer - alpha dog - a real clown
Ben - Austrailian shep - herds everyone into obedience - aims to please
Toots - Yellow Lab - brought 9 pups with her - a great Mama with all dogs
Buddy - grew up to be a tan Great Dane - a lovable couch potato
Bosco - an ancient Pit Bull - mostly blind and deaf - enjoying his retirement
Bobby - small black Terrier - fearless, funny - Buddy's best friend
Riga - Malamute - elegant, aloof, gun-shy -- learning to play
Midgy - Jack Russell Terrier - thinks she's the alpha

So far, the words they understand: come, sit, stay, dinner, and get off the bed.

Hot Summer Nights

It's not officially summer yet, but the cicadas are screaming, the humidity's sticking, and the crowds are streaming to Downtown Knoxville for various concerts, markets, and events. Even the downtown library is sponsoring a series of outdoor concerts. Next week "Midsummer Nights' Dream" open-airs on Market Square, so even Shakespeare is alive and well in Downtown. I've been on this "Downtown" soapbox since the 1982 World's Fair. It looks like it's finally paying off. It may well take 50 years to invigorate our Downtown . . . just about as long as it took for its decline, come to think of it!