Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Charles Dickens, the Crafty Entreprenaur


Most of us know that Charles Dickens was a genius and one of the most quoted writers to ever put pen to paper. But, how many of us know that he was the consummate businessman? He actually sold three copies of the same novel “The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club” to most of his same customers and here’s how he managed that:

In 1836 Dickens was approached by a publisher, Chapman & Hall, with the proposal that he write captions for a series of pictures by the popular artist Robert Seymour. These were cartoon-type characters. The wily Dickens, who was unknown at the time, argued that the stories should be the main focus and that he would write a novel to complement the pictures and had a scheme that would guarantee it’s success. The publishers were naturally dubious but they listened to his idea.
He proposed that they publish his novel in monthly installments, a brand new concept. Each chapter would end on a note guaranteed to make the reader anxious to buy the next copy. This worked very well. The reader didn’t mind paying a small monthly stipend and, since the novel spread out over two years, they didn’t realize that they were paying top dollar for the book.

Shortly into the project the artist Robert Seymour, who was a depressive and a heavy drinker, committed suicide. Hablot Knight Browne, nicknamed “Phiz”, was hired and he went on to illustrate
Dickens’ works for the next 23 years.
The novel is a collection of the adventures of Samuel Pickwick and his friends and it proved to be a huge success. By the end of the serialization 40,000 copies were being printed. “The Pickwick Papers” had taken the world by storm and launched Dickens to celebrity status. Now all of Dickens’ readers yearned for a more substantial copy of the book. They only had the flimsy magazine pages and a leather-bound version was printed to satisfy this demand. Thus the same reader bought the same book twice.
Now is where Dickens became especially crafty. He organized a group of workers who scoured England buying up the old magazine copies for a mere pittance. Most people were happy to get rid of them and had no idea that the pages would be placed in a fancy tie-back folder and resold as, “The Original Collector’s Edition of The Pickwick Papers”.

This became a coveted item and most of the people who had bought the serialized version month after month now paid a premium price to put the “Collector’s Edition” on their bookshelf or in their safe. They felt, rightly so, that these original flimsy pages would be worth a good deal in the future.

So that’s how Charles Dickens managed to sell three copies of the same book to the same customers. Sounds like a great story line to me...something Dickensian about it !



Thursday, March 15, 2018

Let's keep the momentum going ...

Here you see NBA player Dwyane Wade and our current Secretary of Education Betsy Devos 

They were both visitors on the same day that the Stoneman Douglas High School students came back
for their first full day after the horrendous shootings on February 14th.  Of course it was an emotion filled day and the stark contrast between the two visits couldn't have been more different.

Evidently someone in Washington must have thought it was time for Betsy Devos, as the nations Secretary of Education to show some concern but she seemed devoid of empathy ... reading a politically correct prepared statement and not even sitting down with any of the 3,000 students.  To say the least they were underwhelmed.

Dwyane Wade, on the other hand, received a standing ovation of love and excitement when he showed up unexpectedly.  He waded right into the crowd of students and expressed what an inspiration they were to him.  It was uplifting for all involved and he was in no hurry to leave.

In a tweet, after his visit, he wrote:  "I just had a great conversation with some of the students at Stoneman Douglas High School about some important/impactful things that they have planned.  I'm looking forward to being more  involved in the change that they WILL create."

I pray he is right and I can't wait to watch this generation show us how it's done !


Saturday, March 10, 2018

You can't make this stuff up …

On March 8th the news that Trump and the North Korean leader Kim may soon be actually in face to face negotiations came as a surprise to many. However, it was probably the President himself who was least surprised at these developments.

Just 6 days before Trump had attended a Gridiron dinner in Washington, a white-tie affair for journalists. Few there expected to get news of an upcoming US/N.Korea summit but they did.

In Trump's own words he is quoted as saying:
"I won't rule out direct talks with Kim Jong Un. I just won't. As far as the risk of dealing with a madman is concerned, that's his problem, not mine."
(as I said ... you can't make this stuff up !!)


Monday, March 05, 2018

A man of integrity ...

Paul Newman is no longer with us but he left a legacy that few can rival. Many years ago I heard a TV announcer interview him and he said that he and JoAnna had decided to put a cap on the amount of money they needed to lead a good life.

He went on to say that a person, or persons, could only have so many “toys” and, in a world that was overcome with poverty and hardship that he felt it was a crime to just keep on getting without giving back. He said he intended to live by these words.

While movies brought in the big bucks it was his love of driving race cars that filled the latter part of his life and I just watched a documentary about that. As a matter of interest the 2006 animated film“Cars” was his last film. He was the voice of a 1961 Hudson Hornet and also helped check the authenticity of the races.
Newman's Own, his line of salad dressings, sauces, and snacks gives every bit of the profits to education and charitable purposes. Since it's inception over $250 million have been donated. 

Many needed causes have found an answer through his selfless contributions but I think his favorite might have been the Hole In The Wall camps.  The first one was started in 1988 and there are now camps all over the world. It provides a memorable free holiday to children with life-threatening illnesses. 

And his reward:




Wednesday, February 28, 2018

1940 ,,, a shocking disclosure !


I was 7 years old in 1940 and living in Plainfield, New Jersey. My fathers family was there too and I loved visiting the grandparents. I've written quite a bit about Papa Lee in my blog posts. He was an author with 3 published books and we children loved to be around him. He was like a big kid himself and, when not pecking away at his typewriter, he would tell us stories or just romp around with us.

Grandma Lee, on the other hand, was a completely different type of person. She adored Papa but she was the one who always took care of the everyday problems of living.  With his head constantly in the clouds she had to be the one with feet planted firmly on the ground and she handled it very well.
I was always a bit in awe of her.   She was warm and loving too but in an entirely different way than Papa. We frolicked with him, to our delight, but if a problem arose we'd turn to her.  We always knew that she was the one who actually ruled the household. 
And grandma was not a complainer, even when her attacks of asthma would have put others to bed she persevered ... but it was difficult to hear her gasping for breath.   I'll never forget the day when I heard her struggling for breath and rushed to see if I could help in any way.  Was I ever shocked when I saw her lighting up what looked like a tiny cigar !  Here was my God-fearing Grammy smoking !  She must have seen the dismay on my face and was quick to explain that it was a new found cure for asthma and she was trying it out. My memory is not as good as it once was so I checked to see if they actually had those in the 40's.  Imagine my surprise when I learned that the main ingredient in those little cigarillos was  MARIJUANA !

Friday, February 23, 2018

NPR's “1A “ hosted by Joshua Johnson

One year ago Diane Rehm retired and her popular NPR morning radio show was replaced by “1A” … hosted by Joshua Johnson, (a name unknown to me). I thought I'd give it a try and I am so glad I did. The show is broadcast from Washington, DC and is 2 one hour segments back to back. In my area they air from 10 am to noon.
Joshua's topics are extremely varied and run the gamut from movie reviews to medical research to just about anything that's worthy of a good discussion and each Friday is devoted to that weeks news roundup.
One thing that I really like is that he includes the views of his listening audience as well as having hand picked guests. Over the past year I've actually had two of my emails read on the show so I can attest to that.
I am constantly amazed at the depth and knowledge that Joshua displays. He's either extremely well informed or he has a very thorough research process for the topics that he introduces. In typical NPR style his show does not tell you how to think. It simply presents each topic in a fair and well balanced manner and you take it from there. If you haven't listened to him yet I hope you will give it a try





Sunday, February 18, 2018

Hubcap Mania …

For some reason I've become enthralled with hubcaps. It all began with my last car. This was a pre-owned Acura that had wintered in Massachusetts and the wear and tear really showed ... mostly on the hubcaps. I figured this was no big deal because I would just replace them. Wow, little did I know how pricey that would be.   Even the little (less than 3”) center cap for the car I had was priced at $25 each. 
As it turned out it's a good thing I didn't waste the money because shortly after I bought the car I totaled it.  Luckily only my pride was injured !  Now I've replaced that car and my current hubcaps are in good shape and even include the cute little emblem:

 So now I’m all set … right ? Wrong !
I find that now I've developed an obsession with hubcaps even though the immediate need for them is gone for me. It’s become a game that I play while I am on the road. I am fascinated with the fact that a round circle could have so many configurations. Just when I think I’ve seem them all, I spot a new design. It’s endless.

  I really do need to get a life ...