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Fashion Alert – Men’s Printed Pants


printed pants

My world and lifestyle keeps me arms length from fashion trends. Today that’s a very good thing.

One of the ‘top’ trends for Spring/Summer 14 is printed pants. And we’re talking men here, not for women.

Printed pants are wrong on multiple levels not the least of which is this description on how to wear printed pants taken directly from the fashion blog on Business Insider,

“Printed pants have been really popular in women’s fashion for the last few years (Alert #1), and now they’re inching into the men’s market.

Use the same rules as printed jackets and keep things minimal (Alert #2). Also make sure your pants are well-tailored so they don’t end up looking like you wore PJs to the office (Alert #3).

In my opinion printed pants for men is a three-alert problem.

Alert #1 – borrowing a trend from the women’s side of things is wrong

Alert #2 – most guys are packing a few extra pounds, so a 36″ waist pant is hardly going to appear minimal

Alert #3 – casual office dress has made it tough for most guys to know what to wear to work…giving them the option to look like they’re wearing pajamas is probably not wise

So there you have it. Any guy wearing printed pants is flirting with a three alert fashion trend…and that’s dangerous territory.


Wear A Buddy Poppy Today


Buddy PoppySince 1922, the Buddy Poppy has been an integral part of the VFW community. As VFW’s official memorial flower, the Poppy represents the blood shed by American service members. It reiterates that VFW will not forget their sacrifices.

The Poppy movement was inspired by Canadian Army Col. John McCrae’s famous poem, “In Flanders Fields.” Poppies were originally distributed by the Franco-American Children’s League to benefit children in the devastated areas of France and Belgium following WWI.

In 1922, VFW conducted a campaign and got Poppies from France. Members soon discovered it took too long to get the flowers in from France and they came up with a better idea. Disabled, hospitalized and aging veterans could make the paper flowers and ship them out to the members for distribution.

And so it was known, for veterans in VA hospitals and domiciliaries and in state veterans homes, every day would be VFW Buddy Poppy Day. These men and women assemble the Poppies, tie them in bunches of 10 and pack them in boxes of 500, 1,000 or 2,000 for shipment to the Posts and Ladies Auxiliaries.

VFW pays the disabled veteran for the work. In most cases, this extra money provides additional income for the worker to pay for the little luxuries, which make hospital life more tolerable.

Furthermore, Poppy assembly is often used as a therapy program to provide exercise for fingers and hands crippled by wounds, disease and the effects of old age.

Another reason Poppies are so important is because all proceeds from distribution are used for veterans welfare or for the well-being of their needy dependents and the orphans of veterans.

Ver Batum from the VFW.

The Real Meaning of Memorial Day


memorial-day_s345x230For many Memorial Day weekend is considered the official kick-off of summer. Retailers see it as another excuse to have a ‘sale’. Businesses of all sorts count on the long weekend of road trips, picnics and outings to bring consumers their way.

Like most holidays in America the original meaning and intent of Memorial Day has been muddied over the years.

Originally called Decoration Day, Memorial Day was created as an occasion to honor those who have paid the ultimate price to ensure our freedom. It is our opportunity to stop and give thanks for the many who have died protecting that freedom.

One of my favorite things to do this weekend is to attend the local Memorial Day parade. Typically made up of a dozen or so classic cars, scout troops, the high school marching band and veterans from throughout the past decades of freedom fighting. Usually no more than a couple WWII vets are able to make the parade. It is a slice of America that we seem to have lost sight of. Local parades take 10 minutes to watch…check one out if you can.

Regardless of what it means to you, we cannot avoid the fact that U.S. citizens died with the purpose of defending our freedom. So while you enjoy the day off, take a few minutes to think about the people who have died to protect our way of life.

The Entire Retail Industry Is In Trouble


Trouble-Ahead-4fc8facebf9c7_hiresThe retail industry is in trouble.

61 retailers reporting 1Q have missed estimates by an average of 2.6%, well below the long-term average of a 3% beat, according to Retail Metrics President Ken Perkins. First-quarter average profit is estimated to be down 2.3%, versus the 7.7% quarterly average profit growth of the past 15 years, he said.

”The crux of the problem for retailers is the majority of Americans are not making enough money to grow their expenditures on discretionary purchases and are either keeping them flat or cutting back,” said Perkins.


You can blame the harsh winter – but that doesn’t account for huge upsides in winter boots, snow-blowers, travel agencies, etc. You can blame Millenials for shopping not buying – but that doesn’t explain Amazon’s or Whole Foods’ robust 1Q. Blame what ever you want…just don’t blame consumers.

The tepid economy, health care uncertainty and lack of job security has beat down consumers to a low point. And that’s just the start of it.

Unfortunately for retailers consumers’ concerns are just one of the big issues they face today. Security breach concerns, like those that hit Target and Michael’s, have nearly doubled in the past 6 years. This is only the second year that data security has landed among the top 10 risk factors for major retailers.

Labor issues, including health coverage and unions, were cited by 91% of retailers as a business risk, up from 74% in 2009, the study showed. Retailers also are worried about increased staff turnover as the job market improves.

The remaining months of 2014 show no promise of improvement. For many retail brands this year may be the year of reckoning…which isn’t going to be pretty.


I Survived Nomophobia


129841-129416Over the weekend I had a case of Nomophobia. It  was unpleasant but it looks like I’ll be ok.

Nomophobia is the fear of being out of mobile phone contact. The term is an abbreviation for “no-mobile-phone phobia”.

My run in with Nomophobia was mild as I wasn’t traveling, I was with my spouse who had her phone and I had a pretty good idea where I left my phone. Just the same I had it.

Apparently I’m not the only one who’s had a run-in with Nomophobia. According to Psychology Today the fear of being without your smartphone affects 40% of the U.S. population.

Perhaps it’s wrong to call this a phobia – but I think if fits.

A phobia is generally a ‘irrational fear’ and in my case it was mostly irrational. Just the same the pang of anxiety associated with being without my mobile in this brave new connected world is perhaps an understandable feeling.

Irrational or not being with our phones at all times is an obsession that occupies every waking minute. Other research points to nearly two-thirds of us suffering from Nomophobia.

If you think you may suffer from nomophobia – or ‘no mobile phone phobia’ – then the warning signs are:

  • An inability to ever turn your phone off
  • Obsessively checking for missed calls, emails and texts
  • Constantly topping up your battery life
  • Being unable to go to the bathroom without taking your phone in with you

Guilty as charged. For a laugh – add the words “Just in case…” to the end of each of the four bullet points above. That’s where the irrational thinking comes in.

I cringe at the thought of what new phobias will evolve as technology wearables begin to penetrate our lives. How will we cope without our Google glasses and smart watches. I suspect not well.

Until then keep tabs on your phone. It will make your day less phobic.


BolderBoulder Slogan Under Attack


rsz_sissies-bolder-boulder-270x270The BolderBoulder attracts tens of thousands of runners and walkers every year. Some of them in traditional running gear, many of them in goofy costumes — to participate in the annual BolderBoulder, a 10-kilometer road race that has become one of America’s most loved races.

For some, however, there is contention about the race’s slogan – ‘Sea Level Is For Sissies’. At more than 5,400 feet above sea level, running in Boulder ups the ante for even the most elite athlete. Lower air pressure at higher altitudes makes it significantly harder for the body to process oxygen.

Out Boulder, a LGBTQ advocacy group, has launched an online petition seeking to pressure organizers of the Bolder Boulder to drop their slogan because they say the word “sissies” is derogatory.

Sissy is indeed derogatory. But in this case the term is not aimed at LGBTQ.

Being called a sissy has motivated many school children, athletes and siblings to feats of legend – on the playing field, back yard or driveway. It’s a motivator. It’s emotional. And no one wants to be called one.

Now because Out Boulder says it targets LGBTQ’s it’s a problem.

BolderBoulder organizers insist the slogan is not targeting LGBTQ’S. In fact the slogan, along with others like “Altitude Adjustment” and “Run with Altitude,” references the elevation of the annual race. And it’s been used for over six years.

The term sissy is often aimed at teammates, peers and friends who are not pulling their weight. Not living up to their potential. Receiving the ‘sissy’ designation from a classmate in 10th grade Phy Ed class fitness testing motivated me to knock of 60 sit-ups in 60-seconds – and a seat in the top row of the gymnasium bleachers with the cool kids. That was the last time I heard the word directed at me.

Please don’t get me wrong. I believe all American’s deserve the right to live without persecution or threat. That said we should recognize when political correctness gets in everyone’s way. BolderBoulder is a fun event – let’s use caution when attempting to take the fun out of anything.

Ironically the ‘Sea Level Is For Sissies’ t-shirt is the best seller of all BolderBoulder products.

The Start-Up Collapse


bussiness-failureStarting-up a new business is downright tough.

Morphing an idea or a hobby into a business is filled with distractions and opportunities to fail. Bootstrapping or fund-raising both have their challenges. Finding good people to work for little or no compensation is not easy. Keeping your own morale high in light of huge odds can be daunting.

Well, apparently it’s gotten a whole lot tougher for start-ups in recent years.

The Brookings Institution, which looked at the rates of new business creation and destruction since 1978, has concluded that the American economy is less entrepreneurial now than at any point in the last three decades.

Not only that, but during the most recent three years of the study — 2009, 2010 and 2011 — businesses were collapsing faster than they were being formed, a first. Overall, new businesses creation (measured as the share of all businesses less than one year old) declined by about half from 1978 to 2011.


I will avoid politically commentary here in spite of my desire to do so. The numbers speak for themselves.

The authors state that if the decline persists, “it implies a continuation of slow growth for the indefinite future.” This lack of economic dynamism, particularly the steep drop since 2006, may be one reason why our current recovery has felt like much less than a recovery. Lending credence to their statement all one has to do is look at the annual job growth rates which have stubbornly refused to budge above 2% for the duration of the recovery.

Between slow job growth rates and the demise of new business creation – we’re in a funk. Economically and emotionally.

I’m ready for a change. I hope you are too.