Fashion & Lifestyle from HETAIL


Smart ways to honor, or apologize.


Assiduously edited by TWIG & GRASS



Swine Flu & the Economy

Thursday, April 30

This is a 2007 video of the BRILLIANT Laurie Garrett discussing pandemic readiness. Her talk is in relation to the H5N1 virus, but covers the 1918 Swine Flu Outbreak, as well as our current state of preparedness for handling such an event. 

Since Mexico is ground zero for the swine flu virus that has all the world's attention, I have been watching that country's governmental response to the problem. 

Yesterday they decided to suspend all operations of private businesses and forced all travel to ground to a halt. This type of response can be expected to spread as the virus threat-level is raised.

I thought it relevant to post this video here at the Oasis because, around the world,  shopping habits are already beginning to change in the face of this somewhat mild threat.

Mrs. Garrett also spends a portion of her presentation discussing over the counter and prescription products that are associated with controlling flu outbreaks.

Her talk is 14 minutes long, with an additional (and very informative) 6-minute Q&A to follow.


Someone You Should Know

Wednesday, April 29

Barry Schwartz is BRILLIANT!

Here he talks about a new pathway to turning around the fortunes of all members and organizations within our society.

I find his section on education particularly illuminating.


70% off HOME PRICES?

Wednesday, April 22

Homes that sold for $275,000 in 2006 are selling for $80,000 now.

The problem is there's still loads of inventory on the market at these unbelievably low prices.

Read the Forbes article by Matt Woolsey HERE

Uh Oh!

Thursday, April 16

After 5 months of predicting (but ultimately praying I was wrong) this is where this company was headed, the shoe dropped on a Giant.

The Guardian of UK's headlines reads:

America's Second Largest Shopping-mall Owner Collapses

Read the article HERE

Cost Plus Joins the Coupon Camp

Tuesday, April 14

Our friends over at Cost Plus World market are going the Borders Books route. Coupons may bring a small bump in new customer business, but ultimately they train your regular customers when to shop...and that ain't good.

Print it out and save 25%.

More details HERE

Who's Going To Pay For All This?

Saturday, April 11

We are, that's who!

This weeks must read article, from the New York Times.

"Cities Turn To Fees To Fill Budget Gaps"

Essentially it lists things that are usually paid for with our tax dollars, such as street lights and emergency services response teams, being charged to us directly. 

Please take the time to read the article HERE

Opposite Day!

Tuesday, April 7

I spent the better part of last week listening to everyone on television and the newspapers telling me "we have reached the bottom!"

Since I was juggling so much over the past 10 days or so, I had no opportunity to ensure that the people that dwell in reality remain firmly grounded in the facts.

It seems that whenever the Dow Jones goes up, and it went up plenty last week, the bobble heads all start talking the "everything is alright" crap!

The reality is, as Nassim Taleb so brilliantly points out in The Black Swan, the stock market is not a snapshot of American economic health. Besides, I don't know very many "common" people that are still in the market these days, beyond your (required) 401k, I mean.

Here are a few of the Headlines you may have missed while collective noise from the Wall Street cheerleaders overwhelmed you:

  1. Retailer Gottschalks is starting it's liquidation.
  2. Ritz Camera starts liquidation on this Saturday.
  3. General Growth Properties, the nations largest shopping center developer, is nearing bankruptcy.
  4. Bankruptcy filings are up across the country by anywhere from 27% to some 86%, year over year, during MARCH!
  5. 10% of the nation is NOW ON FOOD STAMPS! That's over 32 million people, and there is evidence of another 6-7 million being refused due to barely being above the poverty threshold.
  6. Pier 1 announced it will close an additional 20 stores by the end of the month.
  7. The City of Chicago is closing all it's mental health facilities due to budget shortfalls (Hey it worked for Reagan).
  8. Blockbuster Video is near insolvency, with many (self included) seeing them fold before 2010.
  9. Nevada based casino Bally's closed their Sports Book (operation for taking sports bets) last Tuesday, March 31, without warning...even to employees.
Now on a much more local note, Ethel's Chocolate is closing 5 of 6 "boutique's" BY THE END OF APRIL! With plans to close the last by the end of the year.

Lot's of bad news, I know, but it is only to ensure you keep your nose to the grindstone. The economy is literally just starting to reveal how far away we are from the bottom, not the bottom itself.

April began the "Period of Revelation", a three-month period of time, in which how badly scarred (or healthy) retailers are after a tough Holiday period and the worst 1st Quarter in roughly 40 years. Those that are in trouble will no longer be able to hide, as there is massive debt repayments due at the end of April and lots of capital needed for 4th Quarter purchases. Non-performers are not going to be able to secure loans and will summarily have to take a bow.

As earnings start rolling in at the end of the week, I will try to keep you abreast of the score.

Maybe I have had one too many "crabby-patties", but I think this is only the beginning.

How the Olympics ARE Already Benefitting Chicago

Monday, April 6

I will say out front, I am not in support of the Olympic Games being held in the city of Chicago. There are too many reasons to list, but I will give you just one to chew on; Our city has not been it's beautiful self for quite some time.

The potholes that pock the city streets are not new, they were here, for the most part, since last winter's tremendous snowfall events took their toll.

The parks that are not located in the loop are starting to show wear and tear for the first time in at least a decade.
Even the beautiful skyline, surely the envy of every (at least American) city, now, squeamishly and humbly, announce our pain due to the economic downturn in the form of "FOR RENT" and "Now Leasing" signs braving the famously brisk wind atop many a skyscraper.

However Chicagoans, there are already a few benefits starting to roll in as a result of our being a serious candidate. Here are a few we can all find solace in:

Governor Pat Quinn (did I really just type those words?) is pushing a bill to extend, by 90 days, the amount of time homeowners can stay in their homes while fighting foreclosure. Does anyone believe that Gov. Quinn would go up against the powerful Financial and Real-Estate lobby's if there was no IOC watching our city for cracks in the foundation?

Me either (read about it here).

Chicago has also started re-paving the lakefront bike paths, for both sides of the city. The new paths are extra-wide, making them useful to walkers, bikers, runners and those tourists just out on a stroll. Of course this was done with the Olympics in mind, but what are they going to do, tear up the pavement if the IOC says no?

So hooray beer, we no longer have to deal with the pedestrian equivalent of the Hillside Strangler at Diversey Harbor anymore. Thank you IOC!

We also got our Buckingham Fountain back. Can you believe it? A large city project finished on time and budget? The fountain that forced me to learn about architecture is back.

As a high-schooler we took a trip to the fountain and, though I had visited almost 2 dozen times before, I spent the day learning about the fountain for the first time. The experience led me to learn, and love, more about Chicago than ever. I have never ceased to learn about our city and have never ceased my very Ike Turner-ish love affair since June morning.

Thank to Mayor Richard Daley wanting to show the fountain off to the visiting IOC, it's back on and more beautiful than ever. Thanks again Olympic folks!

Lastly, let's all thank heavens for the Olympic people getting President Obama to talk about Chicago. Lord knows we haven't heard anything from him about our (AND HIS!!!!!) fair city in quite some time, save for "please send the Olympics to Chicago."

Yes, I know the prior resident at 1600 Pennsylvania left President Obama lots to clean up. Yes, I know we are in the midst of a Depression (he still says recession though). And yes, I know he is busy making google eyes, oops I meant goo-goo eyes at the International community.

However, here are just three reasons our city should be rolling off his tongue these days:

1. Thirty-One (31) Chicago Public School CHILDREN have been KILLED SINCE SEPTEMBER (maybe higher by the time you are reading this). President Obama chose, as the person to lead America's schools to a bright new future, ....................Arne Duncan. A person without an Education degree of any kind, and the former "CEO (yes, the first ever because his educational background and experience did not qualify him to be Superintendent)" of Chicago Public Schools.

He left a huge problem here in his wake, so...don't you think the President, being from the Murder Capitol of the United States, discussing the plight of Afghan schoolkids smacks a bit brittle in the face of what is happening in Chicago.

2. A sitting U.S. Governor has been indicted for trying to sell the Senate seat he vacated to when ascending to the Presidency.

3. His White House Chief of Staff has been named as one of the people said Gov. targeted for kickbacks.

So there are numerous reasons to have President Obama out talking about the City he calls home, it just has not happened. Oh, except for the Olympics.

So Thank You Olympic people! You have already given us more than we could have ever expected on a usual basis. I for one will not be out picketing you, because I am fully aware we Chicagoan's can never repay you for what you have already bestowed.

Please Listen to Nassim Taleb

Wednesday, April 1


I really cannot believe he is making the television rounds. 

Please note the music played over his voice for the last 90 seconds:


2009 ·clean needles by TNB