Living in the days of less is more

The vocabulary intended to soften the blows of blistering inflation is a testimony to creativity. Economists keep talking about consumers experiencing shrinkflation. They don’t mean consumers are shrinking (although you do look amazingly trim); they mean the products we buy are shrinking, but the prices are not.

One manufacturer that has been shrinking the size of cereal boxes goes a step further and refers to it as “price-packing-architecture.” That sounds so much better than “sticking it to the consumer.”

Cadbury Chocolate said they will be implementing multiple price hikes, calling them “pricing waves.” It almost sounds like you’re at the beach. How restful. But those waves aren’t water. Hershey is also on track to raise prices.

You can buy candy on the installment plan or kiss chocolate goodbye.

Shrinkflation has also hit ice cream. What passes for a half-gallon, probably isn’t.  Check the fine print.

You can fool some of the people all the time and all the people some of the time, but you can’t fool anybody when it comes to ice cream.

I like the Dollar Tree approach to compensating for shrinking profit margins—there’s no sleight of hand or double talk, just a straight up price hike. Many of the items now cost $1.25, but the signage still says Dollar Tree. The attitude smacks of “tough cookies.” There are fewer of those in a bag now, too.

The silver lining of inflation is that I no longer need help carrying groceries into the house. My usual run that used to fill the backseat now fits compactly in two bags. Perhaps we can think of shrinkflation as a new form of portion control.

The concept of paying more for less is an economic wildfire. A popular pizza chain revealed there will now be only eight chicken wings in an order instead of 10. Interesting, but my question is why do pizza chains sell chicken wings?

Clorox announced they will raise prices on 85 percent of their products, giving “clean-up on aisle 3” new meaning.

The cost of a flight I booked recently wasn’t as high as I thought it might be. But when I went to choose my seat there was an extra charge for a window seat as well as an extra charge for an aisle seat. There was no extra charge for the middle seat, which is good news if you are the size of Barbie.

I can only imagine what the charge is to use the restroom. And there’s probably an extra charge on top of that charge if you want the privilege of closing the door.

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One small leak, seven giant fans

Tom Hanks made a movie titled “The Terminal” about a man stuck in an airport terminal indefinitely. We are going to make a movie titled “Jet Engines” about a couple stuck in a house with seven giant fans that sound like jet engines.

If you have ever had water damage to your house and had giant fans hauled in to dry it out, you know what I’m talking about.


The noise is deafening. It’s like 747 engines at full power for takeoff, but the takeoff never ends, the roar of the engines never stops and the beverage service never comes.

It is so like being stuck in a plane that when the husband fell asleep reading, he woke with a jolt and mumbled, “I’ll take the pretzels, please.”


This all started when our hot water heater sprang a leak and shot pressurized water with such force that it looked like a boxer punched out the drywall in the utility closet. Naturally, the utility closet is in the center of the house. Water soaked the walls, the floor and sent the overflow gushing into the crawl space—the day before we were going out of town.

We are now in what they call “remediation.” Every time I hear that word, I flinch. I get this sick feeling that my fourth-grade teacher Mrs. Grissom finally discovered I wasn’t working up to potential and wants me to return to Boone Elementary for more long division.

On the upside, remediation (the crew that dries the house, rips up the house and then reassembles the house) has greatly improved our social life. We have 20 new BFFs. They usually arrive one or two trucks at a time, but one day four trucks lined the street. People passing by who have had similar experiences, came to the door and offered their condolences.

I told several friends about our remediation and, of course, one household disaster story leads to another household disaster story, and it is always reassuring to know someone has a better story than you do.

One friend said when their dishwasher leaked under the kitchen floor, not only did they have to battle the insurance company every step of the way, but repairs began in January and were not finished until April. Plus, they could only get to their upstairs by exiting the house and re-entering through the front door.

Another friend said when their washing machine leaked, the giant fans lived with them awhile, but they still had to rip out the floor and install replacement flooring. And it all began the week after her husband was released from the hospital following open heart surgery. They live in a small house. Jet engines roaring 24/7 at full throttle were not an enhancement to recovery.

Household remediation after heart surgery won first prize for rotten timing.



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The one thing you can’t live without

Don’t ever say things can’t get worse. At least not aloud.

The cosmos will prove you wrong. It can and often does.

When life does indeed “get worse,” you quickly discover the things you can live without. It’s like a giant loofa exfoliates your entire life.

There’s sleep for starters. Going without sleep is never pleasant, but it is doable for a time. Power naps are vastly underrated.

Sit-down meals with real food and real dishes are dispensable. A bite here and bite there will get you through a crushing day. Oh look! An old protein bar in the glove box!

You can even do without a change of clothes if you must.

A friend used to spritz her little girls with fragrance when there wasn’t time to bathe them, change their clothes or do their hair. They may not have looked their best, but they smelled good.

Tightly-honed schedules can become dispensable as well. It’s hard to function without order, but nearly every mess can wait a little while. You can hurdle toys and shoes, ignore dirty dishes crusting over and snub laundry waiting for the washing machine.

We can manage without sleep, full meals, a fresh change of clothes, schedules, organization and even coffee, but there is one thing we cannot live without.


Hope is the magnetic force that pulls us forward—through disappointment, grief, broken hearts, health crisis, horrific accidents and job loss.

Hope is a lifeline, a very thin one sometimes, but a lifeline nonetheless. Hope whispers that the storms will one day pass.

Hope fuels courage and even a healthy sort of defiance. Hope hears a dire diagnosis—and seeks a second opinion. Hope eyes bleak odds and goes for it anyway. Hope is the tornado victim digging through rubble searching for an unbroken piece of the past.

In the mid-60s, a time of unrest, upheaval and uncertainty, Hal David and Burt Bacharach wrote a song that became a classic. “What the world needs now is love, sweet love. It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.” Perhaps what the world needs now is hope, sweet hope.

This week, Christians around the world celebrate hope. More than 2,000 years ago, the followers of Christ watched their every hope die as the one they loved was crucified and buried. They sheltered together, grieving and bewildered, wondering what next.

Three days later, some women went to the tomb, found the stone rolled away and the tomb empty except for the burial cloths. The shock of that unexpected find would lead to the traditional Easter greeting of “He is risen. He is risen, indeed.”

Hope often lies behind stone walls of grief, despair and seemingly impossible circumstances. Christians around the world celebrate Resurrection Sunday remembering that their hope is in a person, Jesus Christ who, though out of sight, is never out of reach.

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On a scale of 1 to 5 this is exhausting

My newfound popularity is stunning. Everywhere I go people ask for my opinion. It’s fascinating how people I barely know—even giant corporations and conglomerates—are so interested in what I think.

Every time I leave the post office, the clerk behind the counter hands me a receipt, circles a website, asks me to visit it and tell about my experience. I came, they weighed, I paid. What more is there to say?

A while back, I sliced my finger with a butcher knife and wound up at an Urgent Care. We are now best friends, although my new bestie seems a little insecure. “How were you greeted? Did you wait long? How was the care you received? Were you pleased with the follow-up?” That sort of insecurity is concerning, especially coming from a medical clinic.

A few weeks ago, I had a mammogram and now keep getting emails asking if I would take a short survey telling them about the experience. I don’t need to fill out a 20-question survey to tell them about the experience. I can tell them in one word—painful.

Retail clerks at stores often ask, “Email?” as I check out. I always say, “No thank you,” but “no, thank you” implies you are refusing an offer, and it’s not an offer—it’s a request bordering on demand. I’m often tempted to say, “I’ll give you mine, if you’ll give me yours.” Whatever happened to stranger danger?

A lot of places want more than telephone numbers and email addresses. They want a “relationship”—silver, gold, platinum, take your pick. These “relationships” create more online accounts with more logins and passwords, many of which translate into more loyalty cards dangling from my key ring, and all of which will enable me to get even more text alerts, emails, digital coupons and perks.

If I am feeling like the relationship isn’t all it should be, I can download an app on my phone so we can be in even closer contact. Should I want to check my cell phone at 2 a.m. to see if my status has been upgraded, or if someone is waiting for my opinion, or if new offers, coupons and cash rewards have fattened my online wallet, I’m good to go.

Every business phone call ends with, “Please stay on the line to take a brief survey.”

Take an Uber, rate the driver and the driver rates you.

Stay at an Airbnb or Vrbo and you rate the rental and the host, and the host rates you.

Buy a used book online and it arrives with a web address asking you to rate the seller.

We are in a rating frenzy.

I rate it “exhausting.”


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