#atozchallenge 2020: Looking Back

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday

Time for my Reflections post, and how appropriate: “reflections” would have fit right in with the words I used this year. My theme was “words that start with re-, followed by the letter of the day and the rest of the word.” I also said I’d avoid as much as possible verbs with “re-” as a prefix, and only fell back on that three times, for the letters K (rekey) and Z (rezoning), where I couldn’t find another word, and O (reorganize), which was my opportunity to talk about the number of times I was reorganized in my 20 years with one employer. I found that adding the prefix obviated the problems we all have finding words that start with Q, Z, and especially X.

I had all my posts waiting in the queue by the time April Fool’s Day rolled around, which was a good thing because I also had the posts to wrote for the Challenge blog (Mondays and Saturday the 11th), and I wanted to get around and visit as many blogs as I could during the month. As with most veteran abecedarians, I already followed a few of the participants, but I did find a few new blogs or blogs I hadn’t paid a whole lot of attention to (for which I apologize). Here are a few of those blogs…

  • Anne Nydam at Black and White – Anne’s theme was traditional English Nursery rhymes, and she really explained a lot of them to me. I had heard a lot of them when I was much younger, and knew there was a story behind many of them, but didn’t know what the story was. Now I do.
  • Sadje at Keep It Alive – I know Sadje from One-Liner Wednesday and Stream of Consciousness Saturday, and I know she’s a poet of considerable skill. She said this was the first time she had finished the Challenge, and you’d never know it.
  • Sharon Cathcart at her eponymous blog – Sharon shared facts about Pompeii, the city that buried under smoke and ash by Mount Vesuvius back in 79 AD. Having taken several years of Latin, I found this interesting, but even if you didn’t, you’ll enjoy her series.
  • Paula Light at Light Motifs II – I want to point Paula out because, even though she did the Challenge, she never officially joined. Her A to Z was about games, and was really good.
  • Emily Schudel at Zombie Flamingoes – Emily wrote about women photographers, and I was amazed that she actually found someone for every letter. Her entry for Z was Annie Liebowitz, whose name ends with Z. Clever!
  • Penny at Animal’s Place Creative Studios – Penny’s a photographer, and her topic was photography terms. And she kept it simple and it made sense to me, which in itself is pretty amazing.
  • Cheryl Wright at Plucking of My Heartstrings – Cheryl has a Shetland Sheepdog and wrote about what life was like with one. I had an aunt (sadly deceased) who had a Sheltie who was nothing whatsoever like Cheryl’s, so it was interesting to see what they’re really like.
  • Trudy at Reel Focus – Trudy, who’s a screenwriter, talked about humor in films, specifically what makes her laugh.
  • Ruth at Ruth Blogs Here – Ruth wrote about her Inverness, which was a change from what she wanted to write about, thanks to Covid-19. Mary and I visited Scotland many years ago, and apart from where the tour buses took us and the area near our bed and breakfast in Edinburgh, we didn’t see a whole lot, so reading her entries, and especially looking at the pictures, was enjoyable.
  • Carrie-Anne at Onomastics Outside The Box – Carrie-Anne had a list each day of Estonian names. Mary’s grandparents were all from Lithuania, another of the Baltic states, and she teaches Estonian knitting (among other things), so this was of some interest to us.
  • Melanie B. Cee at Sparks From A Combustible Mind – Melanie’s the person that runs the Share Your World blog hop. She wrote about Utah Ski Resorts, and when she ran out of those, her entries were about Mythical Creatures. A good way to handle things.
  • Sue at Sue’s Trifles – Sue’s posts were about the Easter story, and she did a good job of cross-referencing the terminology in each to her other entries, so it was like a reference work, only a lot easier to read and understand.
  • Sarah Zama at The old Shelter – Sarah’s been doing A to Z for a couple of years, and this year’s topic was Living in the Twenties. It was, as all her topics have been, interesting to read and learn from.
  • Frédérique at Quilting Patch – Frédérique is a quilter, and while her entries were written in French, she offered translations, but really, the star here was the pictures of the quilts. I had no idea…
  • Nilanjana Bose at Madly-In-Verse – Nila’s topic was India in 26 objects, but she shared a lot of Indian popular music that wasn’t from Bollywood productions, music which, unless you know what you’re looking for, you’ll never find. Life got in the way of her participation, as it is often wont to do, but her entries continued to post (one of the good things about scheduling things ahead of time), and they’re worth reading (and listening to).

There were some blogs that I would have liked to have read as well, but didn’t get a chance to, which is why we have the A to Z Road Trip. That kicks off on May 18, a week from next Monday, so I hope to get to all of your blogs over the next several months.

Thank you to everyone who stopped by during the challenge, whether you left a comment, a like, or just bumped the counter up by 1. And finally, to the other cohosts, J, Csenge, Jayden, and Arlee, thanks for letting me play along.

Hope to see all of you back next year! God willing and the creek don’t rise, you know I’ll be back.

Rezoning #atozchallenge

Image by 格纳 马 from Pixabay

About the only word I could find that started with rez- was rezone and its various conjugations, so that’s what we’ll talk about.

When we first moved here, the area, although a suburb of Atlanta, was still pretty rural. There were still a number of horse farms along many of the main roads, there were large pieces of land that were still covered with trees, which in turn were overgrown with kudzu, many of the main roads were still two lanes. I had to drive a good mile to shop on Saturdays, there were very few restaurants (and almost no fast-food places) nearby, and in general we felt like we had to travel a good distance to get to civilization.

Over the 30+ years we’ve lived here, a lot has changed. The horse farms have become subdivisions with large houses on small lots, we’re now less than ten minutes from shopping and dining, the roads have all been widened to four lanes, and in general it’s much more urban than it had been. Whether that’s good or bad news is pretty much in the eyes of the beholder, but the simple truth was that the tax burden on the people who owned much of the land made keeping things the way they were impractical. In short, they had to sell or go bankrupt.

In order to subdivide the horse farms and the overgrown land, the buyers had to get the land rezoned, or they couldn’t use the land the way they wanted to, meaning they had to petition to the zoning board to do that. The zoning board is appointed by the county commissioners and has judiciary powers, meaning if things don’t go your way, you have to sue them in Superior Court and try to get the judge to see things your way. Normally, the zoning board is fairly easy to work with, and there haven’t been too many cases where they denied someone who wanted to sell the property to someone who wanted to change how the land is being used. The county is mostly interested in the tax revenue they can collect by repurposing the land. Of course, if the intended changes require changes to the infrastructure (primarily water, sewer, and roads), that might delay or cause them to put off the change until the infrastructure can be updated.

Then, there’s the NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) factor. There was a veterinarian’s office sitting on a sizable piece of property, on which he had a corral that held his white Arabian horse and Brahma bull (their names were “Dream” and “King”). After Dream and King died, he wanted to sell the property to a developer who wanted to build townhomes for senior citizens there. The neighbors were not especially happy with the plans and fought it. Ultimately the land was rezoned and the neighbors just had to live with it.

And sometimes there’s no explanation for the denial. An older gentleman owned a house in a neighborhood that was going commercial, and wanted to have his land rezoned to commercial so he could sell it and move elsewhere, but the zoning board denied him on several occasions. He then erected a sign on his front lawn to protest. Not that it did him any good. Maybe it was the fact that the older gentleman was Lester Maddox, former governor of Georgia and restaurant owner who chased Black people out of his restaurant with a pickaxe handle back in the ’60’s.

And that wraps up the 2020 A to Z Challenge here at The Sound of One Hand Typing. Hope you enjoyed it!

Reynolds #atozchallenge

I was originally going to write this about R. J. Reynolds, the big cigarette manufacturer out of Winston-Salem, North Carolina (whose two biggest-selling brands for years were Winston and Salem). The more I thought about it, I realized that one of the most ubiquitous products in kitchens all over the US was Reynolds Wrap aluminum foil…

As it turns out, Richard S. Reynolds, who started the whole Reynolds Wrap thing, was R. J.’s nephew. Small world. Reynolds Wrap, at least the consumer version of it, has only been around since 1947, and it made Reynolds the second-biggest manufacturer of aluminum foil in the US and third-largest in the world. Alcoa (Aluminum Company of America) was the largest, and in the early 2000’s they bought Reynolds.

Aluminum foil in general and Reynolds Wrap in particular is really versatile: you can wrap food in it, cook in it, cover serving dishes for easy transport to pot-luck suppers, wrap presents with it. Kind of like this commercial says…

Again, I think I was just finding excuses for putting commercials into posts…and speaking of commercials, they also make plastic wrap, which home economists Betty and Pat will demonstrate:

Rexall #atozchallenge

Publichall at the English language Wikipedia / CC BY-SA (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)

My final class for my BBA was a management course where we would take case studies of different businesses and analyze them. For our final project, we were to study a man named Justin Dart, who was from the Chicago area and who for years had headed the Rexall drug store chain.

He was an interesting guy. He went to Northwestern where he played football, then married Ruth Walgreen, whose father headed the Walgreens drug store chain. Daddy-in-law gave him an executive position, giving him the opportunity to experiment with a couple of ideas. Most notably, he moved the pharmacy to the back of the store, giving the customers some privacy when they were having their prescriptions filled, and guaranteeing that they had to walk through the entire store to get there.

The marriage and the job ended in the early 1940’s, and soon he moved to Boston to head up the United Drug Store chain. They had drug stores under four different names (Ligget, Owl, Sonta, and Rexall), and one of his first acts was to rename all of them Rexall. Soon there were Rexall stores all throughout the US and Canada, and he was considered the "boy wonder" of the drug store business. He sold his stake in Rexall in 1978 (the year I graduated with my BBA), but by then had acquired stakes in Avon, West Bend Housewares, Duracell, Tupperware Home Parties, and a few other businesses and operated them as Dart Industries, which he sold to Kraft in 1980.

(Many thanks to Wikipedia for all that information.)

There were Rexall drug stores all over Chicago, almost as many as there were Walgreens, and the orange and blue sign was familiar to all of us. There was a Rexall on my grandmother’s corner, and we used to go in and get candy and coloring books when we’d go to her house. Their one big sale during the year was their "1 Cent Sale," which I’ll let the March Hare explain…

That commercial was from 1966, which explains the prices.

Oh, in case you were wondering, I got an A in the class…

Reward #atozchallenge

Image by 3D Animation Production Company from Pixabay

Rewards programs are meant to encourage brand loyalty. One of the earliest examples of one is S & H Green Stamps. Certain merchants, such as gas stations, grocery stores, and department stores, would give you stamps based on how many dollars you spent, generally one for every dollar. In Chicago, for example, National Food Stores and Wieboldt’s department stores issued them, as well as Magikist Carpet Cleaners and (I think) Standard Oil stations.

The Magikist sign at Montrose Ave. and the Kennedy Expressway, Chicago. There were three such signs, the other two located on the Dan Ryan Expressway and the Eisenhower Expressway. This one lasted the longest.

The idea was you’d get the stamps and paste them in a book. Each book held 1200 stamps, and when filled the book could be exchanged for things like lamps, toasters, silverware, and musical instruments. Of course, for most of the items in the Ideabook (their catalog), you needed more than one book. If you were saving up for something really big, like a TV or clock radio, you would be saving the stamps for a very long time, and there was no guarantee that the item would still be in the catalog when you were ready to get it. Businesses that issued them would have “double stamp” and “triple stamp” days to help you along. There were rival stamp companies, like Top Value and Plaid Stamps, but Green Stamps were the big one. Allan Sherman had a parody of the song “Green Eyes,” called “Green Stamps.”

When I started traveling, I became a member of as many frequent flyer and frequent stayer programs as I could, then would go out of my way to take those airlines and stay at those hotels. Their rewards were pretty good, although after a while the airlines started changing their rules on what qualified as an eligible flight. Still, if you were willing to play their game, you could get free travel and stays at hotels.

Credit cards have even gotten into the act. I have one credit card that gives me 1.5% cash back on everything. I also have an Amazon rewards card for purchases there, and a Starbucks rewards card that gives me money back on purchases there. Both cards also reward you when you use their cards at restaurants, pharmacies, gas stations, and specific other businesses.

Like rebates, reward programs make you work for the benefits, and just like rebates, a lot of people think it isn’t worth the effort. Nevertheless, “something for nothing” is a pretty powerful selling point.