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The Times They Are a Changing

This has been a very busy week. We went to Houston on Tuesday to attend a meeting with the Google AdSense Team. The meeting was very informational.   Note:  For those that might be interested, I’ll be posting some of the tips we learned on our Power to Earn Money blog in the coming weeks should any of you out there use AdSense to monetize your websites or blogs and want to know what the Google people had to say.

But the trip was something else. You know the old saying, ‘you can’t go home’… or something to that effect….well I can totally understand it. Having been born and raised in Houston, going back was a challenge tinged with sadness. It was amazing how much things had changed since we left – and I might add not necessarily for the better.    We did make a quick lunch stop at an old favorite – James Coney Island – it never changes! – but there were a lot of other businesses and restaurants that were gone and/or boarded up. Traffic was horrible, and from The Woodlands on in, it seemed that there were major road construction and repairs everywhere. The pouring rain didn’t help either. By the time we arrived at the hotel (thank goodness the rain had stopped) we were pretty well wired. I say that in defense of our parking garage experience.

We arrived at the hotel (in the Greenway Plaza business district for those familiar with Houston) but didn’t see any parking lots or garages. So we asked the valet parking attendant about parking. He instructed us to take a sharp left turn on leaving the hotel entrance and proceed DOWN into the parking garage. Down??? Knew this couldn’t be good. But, on we went. After passing under the headache bar that advised ‘tall’ vehicles – those over 6’1″ – that they couldn’t get through – we began our downward spiral.     Seemed like the further down we went… the closer the ceiling became. Felt like being encased in cement. At one point there was a sign directing ‘small cars’ to a special parking area – but cautioned that the ceiling was only 5′ 5″ !!! We’re not tall – but even at that we’d have had to crawl out of that area.

But, let me continue….other than the sign directing the ‘small cars’ we didn’t see any sign that would get us to the parking area on the other side of the barricades. Yes, we saw cars, but how to get over there??? After more levels than I can say, we figured we were pretty much reaching the bottom of the garage – and by this time we were both feeling claustrophobic since neither one of us likes tight places and you couldn’t get much tighter than where we were sandwiched inside the ‘spiral’… so David took the first turn he saw and we headed back . . . . UP! That’s right – we were on our way back out…..we scooted past the valet attendant again – know he had to be wondering what was going on with us – and headed back down ‘the hole’. This time David said – ‘we’re taking the first turn we see – no matter what’.

First sign we saw was the one directing ‘small cars’ to exit, so off we went. Just knew we were going to hear the sound of the car roof scraping on the concrete cross beams. But, surprisingly, there was another exit from there – one you couldn’t see unless you exited – that took us to the area we’d been trying to reach all along. We parked – and headed in to our meeting. The ceiling for the parking level was still low – about 6′ 1″ as advertised – but at least we were walking up right. After the meeting concluded, we were so glad to get out of there – didn’t even care that it was almost 5pm and start of rush hour – couldn’t wait to get home.

Now, our second trip this week was to Bryan-College Station. That was much more enjoyable trip and we always have fun there. Did notice a few things I want to pass along as compared to what we saw when shopping last year. You all know I’m a real bargain shopper and watch prices – but this time noticed other things that may – or may not – hinge on the state of the economy and the changes taking place starting this year. First, the Chinese restaurant where we like to eat only had half of the large restaurant dining area lighted – the area where the wait staff worked getting drinks, etc. was – in my opinion – dark – no extra lights, just light filtering in from the dining area. Also, the wait staff appeared to have been cut in half. To that, it was very strange (David pointed this out to me), all the female staff was gone – only the guys still working.

Next we went to Sam’s. Again, seemed that staff had been cut here too. Only one person working behind the snack counter – we’ve always see 2-3 people working there all the other times last year, and only one person checking at the exit . . . you know when they have to check your receipt against your purchases – usually at least two people there. Floor staff also seemed to be minimal. In the past we’ve seen lots of ‘stockers’ on the floor – usually visiting with each other – but not this time. In fact, it was our opinion that the amount and variety of inventory available was also less.

Our next stop at Wal-Mart was also the same in that we couldn’t find several common items that we typically go there to buy, i.e, powdered donuts in the little snack packages, and some common vitamins. Don’t know if this was an isolated experience or a sign of changing times – just know that I’m going to continue to beef-up my stash. Especially some of the more common items that I thought wouldn’t be a problem to find – but evidently are. (Note David’s crackers in the shot !)


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