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The Online Magazine FOR and ABOUT Southside Virginia







Jan '09 Contents

Jan '09 Cover


Family in Six-Part Harmony
By Gert Slabach

Convergence Art Guild
(Grand Opening Show)
By Ed Wilborne

Meet the Brown Brothers
By Michael Ray



South Winds
(New & Improved)

On The Funside
(A Christmas Miracle in Rocky Mount?)
By Amy Hanek

Southside Gardener
(Forcing Bulbs)
By William H. McCaleb

Ask Bubba - Advice
Bubba New Year


Editor's Page
(Sausage & Politics)

V & B Comics
(Verrnack & Blupirk - New Year)

Festivals & Events

Past Issues

Past Issues are available from June 2008 through the current issue.
Select the desired issue from the drop-down box below.



South Winds

(Random thoughts)

New and Improved

   This may be a bit of a departure from the positive thoughts you are used reading on this page, but something got my dander up recently and I need to share it.

   I don't make New Years resolutions. I probably wouldn't keep them anyway.

   Anything important enough to make a resolution about, I should already be doing.

   If setting a date and doing something works for you, I suppose New Years is as good a date as any. Anyone who makes a decision to improve something about themselves, and does it, is doing better than a large part of the population. They should be applauded.

   My telephones started this train of thought. I like the phones I have had for a while now. They do exactly what I want them to do. No more and no less. Nothing missing, that I can't live without, and no extra bells and whistles I don't need, to get in the way of the business of making phone calls. As my old phones are beginning to wear out, I am having to consider getting new ones. The problem is, I can't find the same model any more. They are all "New and Improved" and have too many gadgets on them.

   As I sat and thought about it, I realized how many things are that way. "New and improved."

   I can't find the same tires, which served me well. They rode fine, lasted a long time and the price was right. So, what was wrong with them? I don't know, but all the tires I can find are "New and Improved." I have plenty more examples, but you get the point.

   Product packaging makes me crazy, especially at the grocery store. When I get used to something, it is nice to be able to spot a familiar package, grab it and go. But the manufacturers can't leave well enough alone.

   Once upon a time products changed their logo or packaging about once a generation. Today, it seems like every time I turn around they are making the packages either a different size or color. They change the logos, or put windows on the box. And of course, there is the "Cause Du Jour" packaging. Not to pick on a particular cause, (because I know it will ruffle some feathers) and most are good causes which I either do, or would support in other ways. But leave them off my macaroni box or Raisin Bran. Now instead of just rolling down the isle and grabbing the size and variety I am accustomed to, I have to read the package several times to see if it is same thing I have been buying all along. If the box used to be blue and now it is pink, or yellow or mauve, (Is mauve even a real color?) I have to read it to make sure it is not low fat, sugar free, low sodium, gluten free, or taste free.

   Even our pets aren't exempt from this marketing treachery. I ran out of fish food the other day. When I went to buy more, the package was so different I wasn't sure I bought the right thing until I got it home and read the bar code and found out it was the same as the empty one. Even the store computer thinks this is the same product, but I couldn't tell.

   On top of all that, I have a problem with the whole concept of "New and Improved" anyway. It is either new, or it is improved. It can't be both. Think about it for a minute.

   If they want to make something new; OK fine. It is a different product. I can choose to buy it or not. If they have changed the old product, it may or may not be improved. I'll decide after I have tried it.

   But how can it be both new and improved?

   Something has to exist and exhibit flaws to be improved upon. Did they realize it was bad before they released it and then improve it before it hit the shelves? I doubt it. It is either old and improved, or it's new and, well, new.

   Like on my report cards as a kid. Satisfactory, Unsatisfactory or Needs Improvement. [1960's answer to politically correct grading] I seem to remember getting a lot of those NIs. When I upgraded a "Needs Improvement" to a "Satisfactory", was I New and Improved"?

   If you REALLY want to improve something; take something that is already good and put more of it in the package.

   Now that would be an improvement, and it sure would be a new experience, wouldn't it?

   What are they trying to do with all this new packaging; fool us into thinking it is something different? If I didn't like it or buy it in the first place, they are only going to fool me once with a new package or logo.

   I am on an on-going quest to improve myself. It is slow work, but I think I am doing it. For the most part I concentrate on the stuff inside me. I know I can be better. I can certainly be lower in fat and calories. Maybe I will paint myself a different color while I am at it. How about a nice shade of mauve?

   Will I fool anybody with the new packaging? Probably only once if I am still the same on the inside.

   What I wonder is this. When I am "New and Improved", am I going to recognize me?

   By the way, has anyone seen the Morton Salt girl lately? I think she ran off with my tires and yellow box of macaroni.


-= FCOIT =-   



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