Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Life Goes On

Until it doesn't.

It started off as a good day with a morning trip to the gym to finish an audiobook.

Like most of my days, it did not start with listening to or reading the news online. 

Ignorance is bliss when it comes to starting the day off peacefully. 

Recently, many others have said as much and called the news depressing.

Today, that was even more so with the killing of 19 schoolchildren and 2 adults in Uvalde, TX.

Sadly, this school shooting follows ones in 2012 (CT), 1999 (CO), 2018 (FL) 2007 (VA) which killed nearly 100 students and teachers overall.

Most were young with full lives ahead, some children only 6 to 7 years old. 

The latest murder spree comes 4 days after a Buffalo, NY mass killing left 10 dead.

When does it end?

Is gun control the answer or more awareness of mental health issues?

Who knows?

Sadly, there doesn't seem to be a clear-cut answer with advocates for both. 

The world mourns together for lives senselessly lost.

Normally, this blog avoids commenting on current events, as opinions and attitudes differ.

Today, like so many others, my head and heart are filled with much sadness.
Comments have been left on. Collective expressions of grief can be beneficial.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

The "Other" Cola & More

In the past 3 months we've visited the birthplaces of two of the most popular colas worldwide. While we rarely drink soft drinks of any type, we can't resist an interesting location if it's along our way (and even if not).

Caleb Bradham
In February, we visited Atlanta, GA, known among other things as the home of Coca-Cola where the original formula was created in 1885 by pharmacist Dr. John Pemberton. The history of the Coca-Cola Company is seen in The World of Coca-Cola, a museum solely dedicated to the popular soft drink. That visit was detailed in a previous post.

But as most soft drink fans know, Coke isn't the only cola in town. The other one, that started out under the name "Brad's Drink" was created in 1893 in New Bern, NC, by another pharmacist, Caleb Davis Bradham. It's now known worldwide as Pepsi-Cola.

We're currently on a getaway in NC, and by a fortunate coincidence, staying just a 40-minute drive away from New Bern. Of course, we had to take a (side) road trip.
The Pepsi Store, the former site of Bradham's Pharmacy in New Bern, NC
New Bern is the second oldest city in NC and unlike the very large Atlanta facility, the birthplace of Pepsi-Cola, isn't a museum or anything close to one.
The location of the original pharmacy and soda fountain contains souvenir merchandise related to the soft drink. Unlike the Coca-Cola facility there's no large exhibits detailing the drink's history. S
ome online articles suggested that the city may consider a future expansion to create a museum.

The only connection to the soft drink is that the location was the former site of Bradham's original downtown pharmacy and drug store. 

Now, it's more a souvenir shopping experience than anything else where a diehard Pepsi-Cola fan can find a lot of merchandise including apparel, collectables, ornaments, ball caps and more. It's open year round with no admission fee. Also, unlike Coke, no sampling area.

Caleb Davis Bradham was a NC native who planned to become a medical doctor. He worked part-time as a pharmacy apprentice at a local drug store while attending school in Maryland. When his father's business failed, he dropped plans for medical school and returned home. Later, Bradham enrolled in pharmacy school and, after graduation, opened a drug store on the corner of Middle and Pollock Streets in downtown New Bern. Like many other drug stores of the time, the pharmacy also housed a soda fountain.

Bradham wanted to duplicate the success of Coca-Cola and so created a formula under the name "Brad's Drink" made from a mix of sugar, water, caramel, lemon oil, nutmeg and other natural ingredients. 
Introduced in 1898, its name implied its origin as a health tonic and the drink proved popular. Although there have been claims that person, a digestive enzyme, was included in the original formula it was never an ingredient in the original formula. 

Seeking a better name, Bradham bought the name "Pep Kola" from a local competitor and in August 1898 renamed the drink to Pepsi-Cola. He believed the drink was more than a refreshment but a “healthy” cola, that aided in digestion. The name was rooted from the word dyspepsia, meaning indigestion. The syrup was sold nationwide with the slogan, Exhilarating, Invigorating, Aids Digestion.

In late 1902, the Pepsi-Cola Company was formed due to the rising popularity and demand for the Pepsi-Cola syrup. Bradham was the first company president. Business grew and in June 1903, Pepsi-Cola became an official trademark, one of the earliest in the history of the US Patent Office. By 1904, Pepsi-Cola syrup sales reached almost 20,000 gallons. 

Demand continued and by 1905, Pepsi-Cola was being sold in glass 6 oz bottles (prior to this time it was sold only as a syrup). Bradham sold franchises and by 1910 had 240 franchises in 24 states. Under Bradham's direction, the company started a successful advertising campaign featuring women and celebrities emphasizing the drink’s invigorating qualities. To meet the demand that the company advertisements produced, Pepsi-Cola Company was one of the first to ship products via motor transport.

The Pepsi-Cola franchise was hit hard when the U.S. entered WWI in 1917 and rationed sugar causing production and sales to fall. Pepsi-Cola was unable to produce enough syrup to meet consumer demands. Bradham tried sugar substitutes without success. None produced the same taste as the original formula with sugar. 

During the war, the government controlled sugar prices at three cents per pound.  At the war's end, price controls were lifted, and the cost soared (28 cents per pound). When WWI ended and price controls were lifted, the price of sugar soared. Customers still expected to buy a bottle of Pepsi-Cola for five cents. Bradham bought heavily in anticipation of even higher sugar prices. 
Then, sugar prices dropped and Bradham's stockpiling plan backfired, He had an over supply of the sweet and could not raise new capital. Losses mounted up and the company could not cover its production costs. In March 1923, the Pepsi-Cola Company declared bankruptcy and was sold to Craven Holding Company, a group of creditors which took control of the company’s trademark, patents, and other assets for $30,000.
Bradham returned to his drug store in New Bern as a full-time druggist and remained active in the community. I'm not sure if he sold Pepsi-Cola at the soda fountain in later years.

If you're a fan of all things Pepsi-Cola, you might be disappointed that the Birthplace of Pepsi in New Bern, NC, doesn't feature a lot of history about the soft drink. Since it was first sold in bankruptcy in 1923, there's been many twists and turns in the company's history including future bankruptcies. It's now known as Pepsico and remains in second place overall to Coca-Cola which has retained its dominance as the world's most popular soda drink.
The place where Pepsi-Cola was created is at its original downtown location on the corner of Pollock and Middle Streets. However, as noted earlier, the site now is mainly a place to buy merchandise. 
A small area features a recreation of a soda fountain shop where fountain drinks can be bought, but at higher prices then in Bradham's day. This storefront is only a recreation as the original was destroyed by fire years ago.

It was interesting to learn that both creators of these popular soft drinks, Pemberton (Coca-Cola) and Bradham (Pepsi-Cola) were pharmacists who created syrup formulas  while working in their pharmacy-drug store. At first, Pemberton's creation was sold as a cure-all product for nervous orders, depression, anxiety and when later added to carbonated water good for one's health. Bradham wanted to duplicate Pemberton's success, but first believed in the health, energy and digestive benefits of his creation.

While both men ultimately lost their businesses, Pemberton sold the syrup recipe and Bradham sold what seemed to be a more established company business. None of the articles I read ever mentioned that the formula for Pepsi-Cola was locked away in a secret vault, whereas for the Coca-Cola syrup formula, the Atlanta, GA, museum features an exhibit vault with the secret formula. They both died before the age of 70, Pemberton at age 57 and Bradham at age 67.

If you are wondering if this excursion was worth the excursion and gas cost, it would definitely not be recommended unless you were already in the area or planned to visit for other reasons. That said, there are several of those. New Bern, NC, has a vibrant downtown with many diverse shops which we explored during our visit. 

One very unique store, Mitchell Hardware, founded in 1898, is an authentic working hardware store offering home goods, garden care, and unique gifts. Founded as a livery stable in 1898 by Thomas Mitchell, the store originally specialized in selling mules, horses, wagons and harnesses.

Farmers Market Bear
If we didn't visit, we would also have missed seeing some of the 80 life-size fiberglass bear statues all around the city. The Bear Town Bears were created for New Bern’s 2010 tercentennial and are everywhere in the city—including the farmer’s market. The bears are more than a mascot; they are part of the heritage of the second oldest town in NC. Bern is an old Germanic word for bear and is the symbol of Bern, Switzerland, which is the hometown of the settlers who founded New Bern in 1710. New Bern was also the state's first capital from 1770 to 1792.

If any fellow bloggers are fans of author Nicholas Sparks, you may already know that several of his novels include New Bern, as a setting and it's also his home. New Bern’s place in Spark's novels is highlighted in A Bend in the RoadThe Wedding, The Notebook, and The Return. The Walk to Remember tour (the title of a Sparks book set in Beaufort) features more than a dozen stops in New Bern, including the Masonic Theater, Union Point and The Chelsea restaurant.
A delicious reason for our New Bern visit was to enjoy this wonderful dinner as guests of Chef Michael of the Doubletree Hotel there. It was an unexpected treat, always the best ones. By a  happy coincidence Chef Michael was visiting the Doubletree Hotel we're in at Atlantic Beach, NC, on  Saturday and overheard us mention our Monday anniversary. He invited, we accepted and dinner was delicious (trout, salmon and berry tarts).

Coincidences and happy surprises have been making this a wonderful celebration getaway. There was also the prime viewing of the lunar eclipse from our hotel room earlier this week

Monday, May 16, 2022

We're Celebrating #25

Yes, today is a special day and once again we're celebrating and on a getaway, once again.

It's not our wedding anniversary as that's not until August when the number will be 22 years.

Today, we celebrate the quarter century since our first date on May 16, 1997 in our home state of NJ. This date has been noted in posts dating back to 2010, the year we started blogging. (Last year's post had a few the way we were photos, so none here.) As often told, we met online through an obsolete dating site, that was nothing like those now. We emailed for monthsno photos or calls and only spoke by phone the night before our first meet-up, no phone texting back then then. 

We compare our getting to know you process like those exchanges shown between the couple Kathleen (Meg Ryan) and Joe (Tom Hanks) in the 1998 film,You've Got Mail. The difference is that our meet-up was a year before the film's release. 

Our emails included exchanging this ecard back and forth. It would show up in one of our morning mails and be returned to the other by evening. The inside of the card included the line,
 I’m sending them back to you…and so we did, quite often.

We celebrate the date by spending it someplace different each year and usually dining out for lunch or dinner, sometimes both.  Special occasions only happen once a year, after all. In past years, we've planned getaways around the date in different locations as much as possible. The past couple of years, our travel was restricted because of we all know what and we stayed within New England.

It's quite often, the little things in life, like a date that only you or someone else remembers. These are what make remembering celebrations that we enjoy, so special, especially as we're the only ones who do.

And, this year, our celebration getaway is in Atlantic Beach, NC, where Grenville is so happy overjoyed to feel the sand between his toes. He grew up spending summers at the NJ shore. While I'm not really a sun and sand fan, I always appreciate the beauty of sand and surf.
A bonus this year was that we had a front and center viewing for last night's total lunar eclipse from the small balcony of our oceanfront hotel room. This happened since the sunlight shining directly onto Earth passed through the atmosphere and was projected onto the moon, producing a red tone during the eclipse and it's why a lunar eclipse is referred to as a blood moon.
Unfortunately, my digital travel camera has a very limited zoom (4X) and handholding the cell phone didn't produce any noteworthy images. However unsuccessfully, I tried as shown above. 
However, Grenville had somewhat better results with his small and longer zoom digital camera as shown above. Just being able to see this sight was a special treat and we watched it unfold from roughly 10:30 until midnight. Ironically, If we had been home in Nashua, NH, we would have missed it entirely. Neighbors told us that clouds and rain obstructed any viewings. That makes this anniversary getaway even more memorable since we were in a great place to see it firsthand. After all it's really all about location, location, location, isn't it?

About two lunar eclipses occur each year, and the next total lunar eclipse will occur in November 2022. Most likely, we will be in NH and hopefully the weather will cooperate.

How about you — any special dates, anniversary or otherwise, that you celebrate annually?

Friday, May 13, 2022

Friday Funnies

There's no doubt who's in charge here . . .
It's definitely a woman. This church is on Main St. in Nashua, NH, and the "boss" is one of our neighbors at the mill apartments.

Today is Friday the 13th, the only one in 2022. No one knows exactly why fear of the number 13 has been coupled with a day of the week, there's many theories.

For example, there are some biblical connections. Friday was supposedly the day Eve gave Adam the apple from the Tree of Knowledge, also the day Cain killed his brother, Abel. According to tradition, 13 guests attended the Last Supper, Jesus and 12 apostles (one of whom, Judas, betrayed him). The next day was Good Friday, the day of Jesus’ crucifixion.

Other connections include a late 19th-century secret society, the Thirteen Club, when 13 guests dined monthly on the 13th day in a room numbered 13 and enjoyed a 13-course dinner.

The now-cultish 1980 horror movie Friday the 13th introduced Jason, a hockey mask-wearing killer. It has become perhaps the best-known example of the famous superstition in pop culture. The movie has spawned multiple sequels, comic books, video games, and numerous Halloween outfits.

Regardless of your thoughts about today's date, not taking any unnecessary chances would be a very good thing. 

Enjoy Your Weekend, Everyone (and be careful)
We're headed to NC for a week. It's beach time for Grenville

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

They Went Skydiving

And, not only did we not join in but also didn't know any of those who skydived. Grenville and I were just onlookers at a NH skydiving site late last fall. 

We're perfectly OK with that status. This activity is definitely not on our bucket lists, but apparently it's on that of many others.

This year, the United States Parachuting Association (USPA) has over 41,400 members, a record number increase from the pandemic-low membership of 36,200 in February 2021 and membership is expected to increase this year.  An estimated 350,000 people complete over 3 million jumps annually in the U.S. alone.

Who knew that skydiving was not only so popular, but that we could see it just 20 miles from our Nashua, NH, home. We did so in late 2021, but I neglected to post earlier. (The parking area was a distance from the drop zone; my camera zoom is limited, so no super close-ups.)
Tandem jumps at Skydive Pepperell, NH
New Englanders (or anyone) who wants to jump out of a perfectly good aircraft to land on the ground, can do that at Skydive Pepperell in Pepperell, NH. It's open daily from late April through October and has a recreational drop zone on a private 60+ acre skydiving-only airport with a flat grassy drop zone without obstacles. Novice skydivers jump with an instructor, tandem style. Two people are strapped together, jump out of a plane and remain connected during the descent. 
Cessna Caravan at Skydive Pepperell, NH
The Texas turbine powered Cessna Caravan aircraft used for the drops is considered the fastest and most popular jump plane. It can take a maximum of 18 skydivers up to 13,000 feet in about 8 minutes. Typical worldwide skydiving height (exit altitude) is about 10,000 feet.
DaVinci's design

Curious as to how this sport started, I learned that the concept of falling from the sky dates to the 1100s in China. The Chinese would do what today is called base jumping, that's jumping from cliffs and outcroppings then floating to the ground in makeshift parachutes. 

Fast forward a few hundred years to 1493, when artist Leonardo DaVinci, also a scientist and inventor, sketched a design for the first parachute. He never tested the triangular parachute design. It was tried in 1999 and worked. 
Lenormand jumps from the tower of the Montpellier observatory, 1783. Garnerin releases the balloon and descends with the help of a parachute, 1797 (Internet sources, late 19th century)
In the 1700s, Louis-Sébastien Lenormand, a French chemist, physicist, inventor, became  a parachuting pioneer who is credited with coining the term from the Latin prefix para (against) and the French word chute (fall). Lenormand refined his device after jumping from a tree with a pair of modified umbrellas and in December 1783, jumped from the tower of the Montpellier observatory using a 14-foot parachute with a rigid wooden frame. His intended use for a parachute was to help those trapped in a building fire to escape. 

André-Jacques Garnerin, a French hot air balloonist was the first person to successfully jump with a frameless parachute attached to a gondola in 1797. The successful descent was made after the device was lifted skyward 3,200 feet above Paris by a hot air balloon. He jumped without injury.

Landings at Skydive Pepperell, NH
While skydiving isn't without risk, I was surprised to learn it's safer than expected. Statistics show the annual fatality count is about 20 and equals a .007 percent chance of death for every 1,000 jumps. The sport of bungee jumping has about the same fatality rate. In terms of safety, bungee jumping and skydiving are equal. This low rate makes each death newsworthy when it occurs. By comparison, over 46,000 people die annually in crashes on U.S. roads. 

Thanks to a post comment from a fellow blogger, I checked another statistic on BASE jumping. By comparison, this is one of the most dangerous recreational sports worldwide with a fatality and injury rate 43 times higher than parachuting from a plane. (BASE stands for the categories of four fixed objects that one can jump from — buildings, antenna (radio masts), spans (bridges), and earth (cliffs). Participants exit from the fixed object and after an optional free fall delay, deploy a parachute to slow their descent and land.  BASE jumps are way more dangerous than skydives as jumpers often use one parachute with no reserve. 

Skydiving is often compared to parachuting since both involve jumping/falling to the ground for various reasons. 

No, they are not the same and, yes, there's a marked difference. 

Parachuting is the act of jumping from a plane with a parachute that's immediately deployed. Skydiving starts with a leap from the airplane and includes a free fall descent from 30 to 90 seconds before the parachute opens, usually at a higher altitude. In short, a parachutist doesn't experience free fall after jumping from a plane. 

Another distinction is that parachuting is most often used in the context of a career or work and skydiving is used in the context of recreation. For example, smoke jumpers, Navy SEALS and Special Forces operatives are said to parachute, whereas sport jumpers and international competitors are said to skydive. 

If you're considering a recreational skydive, costs can be sky-rocketing (couldn't resist a pun). At Skydive Pepperell, an individual tandem jump is $275 which includes airport fees, lift tickets, and instructors. It decreases by $10 per person starting with groups of 5 to 9 and up.
In doing this post, I thought about the lyric, I went skydiving, from the 2004 song Live Like You Were Dying by Tim McGraw from a CD that's a favorite in our music collection. I've included a music link above. In the lyrics, McGraw is talking to a man who's received a terminal diagnosis. When McGraw asks him how he handled it, he learns that the man got a new outlook on life and started doing things he always wanted to do (skydiving, mountain climbing, fishing, bull riding) and became more generous and forgiving. 

Your turn — Have you ever considered skydiving or any other extreme recreation?

Friday, May 6, 2022

It's All in a Word

And, that word is Sad 😢.

Whenever anyone hears it word usually followed by news there's already a mental connect made that nothing good will follow.

Most recently, a blogger listed on my Blog to Explore sidebar began a post that way. The news
was not good at all. 
I will not go into detail here.

I am sure that Lorraine who blogs at Mama's Mercantile would appreciate words of friendship and support. If you click on the link, you can read more in her own words. And, you will learn much about this very talented and creative lady. 

Meanwhile, many of you have offered and continue to offer support and friendship to another blogger friend, Rita of SoulComfort's Corner. She has made remarkable progress after her initial medical diagnosis and continues to update on her blog.

There are certainly many in the blog world who know, or have known, bloggers who are no longer active online for health or other reasons. 

Words may seem of small comfort when the unforeseen happens and lives change suddenly, but friendship is all encompassing. While it can be difficult to know the right words of support to offer at difficult times. Visits in any form are welcomed, both to and from friends we may never meet personally. 

Remember that a gesture of friendship, no matter how small, is always appreciated.
Horace Jackson Brown, Jr. (Life's Little Instruction Book)

Enjoy Your Weekend, Everyone
(Comments are off.)

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Make It Stop

A more correct post title would have been Make Them Stop

This refers to the many annoyances we get on our phones and in the postal mail—by names such as spam, scam and junk mail and this post doesn't even include email spam.

Many people, including other bloggers, have commented that they receive way too many catalogs, phone calls or other unwanted and unsolicited mailings. In a recent post on her Accidentally Aging blog, Latane, showed an extreme example of a catalog mailing received recently and asked if anything similar had happened to anyone else.

Assorted catalogs (Internet source)
Several bloggers responded in their comments about receiving too many catalogs and other solicitations.

Make It Stop has become a common thread plea.

In response to Latane's post, my comment was that (fingers crossed) we hardly get any catalogs
delivered. In fact, I can't recall the last time one was in our mailbox, even at holiday time.

That could be since we don't order through any. It may sound hard impossible to believe, but it's true. We either buy directly in stores and, now, online (a lot). In the past, we've received catalogs from places we shopped at and from places we've never shopped. As recent as last year, we were getting catalogs addressed to the former tenant who hasn't lived here in 7 years and apparently did a lot of catalog shopping.

We don't get catalogs as I Make It Stop; Grenville would just recycle them. That doesn't work for me. It's extra effort to go to recycling on another floor, but more so, a big waste of paper.

Here's what works for me, calling customer service (CS) listed in the catalog and explaining (politely, of course) that we do not want the catalog, asking that our name and address not be provided to other companies (many times that's what happens). The usual response is to that catalogs are preprinted, so a few more may come. My always polite response is these will be recycled until they stop. (I've heard/read about how some yell/scream at CS reps. There really is no need. After all, it's a job and sometimes not a pleasant one.) 

Of course, this can be time-consuming, if you get a lot of them. The alternative is to keep tossing them out. Many online sites give tips on how to stop junk mail, but I've never tried any of them.

Unlike now, there was a time when catalogs were not only welcomed, but looked forward to in the mailbox. It was how folks ordered everything for their home, for some including the home.

The two most popular catalog giants were Sears Roebuck & Company and Montgomery Ward. While Sears may have been the better-known catalog, but it was not the first.

1895 Montgomery Ward
In 1872,
 Aaron Montgomery Ward, a traveling dry goods salesman, started the first general purpose mail-order catalog company focused on rural customers in the Midwest. 

Ward had observed that rural customers wanted city goods. Their only access was through rural retailers with little competition and no guarantee of quality. Ward believed he could cut costs and make a wide variety of goods available to these customers, who could purchase goods by mail and pick them up at the closest train station.

Ward and two partners raised $1,600, and issued the first catalog in August 1872. The 8×12 in. single-sheet price list had 163 items for sale with order instructions. In 1883, the company's catalog was 240 pages and 10,000 items. The company faced mail order competition when Richard Sears introduced his first general catalog in 1893. 
Sample products in 1934 Montgomery Ward catalog (Internet sources)
By 1900, Montgomery Ward had total sales of $8.7 million vs. $10 million for Sears. By 1904, Montgomery Ward mailed 3 million catalogs, weighing 4 pounds each. In 1985, after 113 years, the company closed its catalog business.
1897 Sears Roebuck & Co.

Sears, Roebuck and Company made its name with hefty, jam-packed catalogs that advertised everything from underwear to house kits. Early Sears catalogs were labeled as the Cheapest Supply House on Earth or the Book of BargainsBy 1894, the catalog had 322 pages. 

The Sears catalogue contained more than 500 pages of merchandise by the late 1890s. Rural Americans could now purchase hundreds of different items like shoes, clothing, women's garments, wagons, fishing tackle, furniture, china, musical instruments, bicycles, firearms, groceries too — all by mail.

Through its catalog, Sears was able to reach out to the 70 percent of Americans who lived in the rural U.S. at the end of the nineteenth century. Many of whom were said to have thought that the Bible and the Sears catalog were the only books they read. In some cases, that might have been true.

At its peak, it offered over 100,000 items in 1,400 pages and weighed 4 pounds (like the MW one). In 1933, Sears created the annual Wish Book catalog, that youngsters drooled over at holiday time. That became its official name in 1968. Sears discontinued its general catalog in 1993.
Sample products in 1897 Sears, Roebuck & Company catalog (Internet sources)
People could buy a complete house from the Sears catalog. These house kits were popular and came with assembly instructions. Parts didn't come in the mail, but were delivered by railroad. Sears is estimated to have sold 70,000-75,000 home kits from 1908-1940. Kits came in 447 different designs, from the grand Magnolia ($5,140 to $5,972) to the more popular Winona ($744 to $1,998). Sears advertised the kits promising that We will furnish all the material to build this house design. Parts arrived precut, ready to assemble.
Sears Catalog Home Kits
If you want to learn more about Sears homes, a favorite podcast, 99% Invisible (Episode 323) featured The House That Came in the Mail. It's a fascinating listen which you can hear online by clicking the highlighted link or you can read it on the podcast website.

1963 J.C. Penney
Late to the catalog game was retailer J.C. Penney (after James Cash Penney) which issued its first catalog in 1963. It developed into a massive 1,000-page big book catalog before being discontinued in 2009. The company announced that the 
discontinuation was in keeping with its ongoing commitment to promote the sustainability of forests and other natural resources. 

Five years later in 2015, the company reversed position stating that research showed customers liked to browse a traditional print piece (or look book) at home before going into a store or ordering online. 

The catalog succumbed to the digital age, as did the company. It filed for bankruptcy protection in 2020 after 118 years in business as one of the premier shopping avenues for America's middle class.

Make it Stop — Junk Mail
Is your mailbox filled with junk mail  Numerous online sites advise how to stop junk mail, too many to list. Search online and you will find them. Whether or not they will help isn't guaranteed.
Pile of junk mail (Internet source)

I read a statistic that in the U.S. alone, we receive up to 90 billion pieces of advertising mail. It's not called junk from the postal system's view. The average household gets 40 pounds annually which accounts for about 60 percent of all mail Americans get. According to the USPS only half is read, some 4 million tons of paper are tossed out —a lot of waste every year.

Many of us have received $ requests from charitable, historical or other organizations. Once you donate to an organization, you get a thanks plus a request for another donation. It's happened to us as well, not so much anymore.

Here's why. For the past several years, we've contributed mostly to local organizations. letter is always sent with the donation stating that it be used for whatever purpose needed and that we do not want to receive an acknowledgment or further contact, and no request(s) for further donations during the year. We also ask that our information not be provided to others. 

There's also includes a condition that if these requests are not respected, a future donation would be reconsidered. Our home address is blocked out on the check (using a black marker). A friend told me this was OK, a check with our local bank confirmed that. This works for us as to date we haven't received another donation request from over 12 organizations, so we will contribute to all again this year. 

Make It Stop—Spam Calls
We've all had them, many are automated robocalls. You know the ones that usually come
around meal times. Did you know that spam calls fall into several main categories?
  • Telemarketers: someone is trying to sell something from a legally registered business. 
  • Legal robocalls: automated calls for notifications, services, or sometimes bills. Some can be from medical offices to confirm appointments or schools making announcements.
  • Illegal robocalls: prerecorded messages you didn’t sign up to receive and includes calls like an expiring auto-warranty or a student-loan.
  • Scam calls: when a person calls to defraud; includes car-warranty, kidnapping scams and fake IRS calls.
And, like for junk mail, many online articles advise how to stop or at least limit these calls. One popularly recommended step is to add your number(s) to the FTC’s National Do Not Call Registry, which could help reduce these calls. It won't stop every scammer or legitimate robocalls, but could provide some help. Many cell phone companies offer a free spam-blocking app as well. 

Cell phones also have call blocking apps available, some free; others at a cost. There's other ways without using an app. I don't know about Androids, but iPhone has a feature to Silence Unknown Callers. This avoids calls from people I don’t know by blocking phone numbers I've never been in contact with and who aren't in my contacts list. Silencing unknown callers could silence some that are important, but not in my contacts. If that's so, a voicemail can be left.

Unfortunately, the effort to Make It Stop unwanted calls and mail can be exhausting. However, if it means that we get fewer annoying calls and unwanted mail, I'll continue and possibly save some trees. And, the methods described in this post are my own. I do not use any online resources or apps. Others may have differing approaches. These work for us.

As noted by a fellow blogger, I didn't include spam emails and spam blog comments as that would have really made the post longer, perhaps in a future post.

Quickly on blog comment spam, I don't monitor comments, but review daily as often as possible. Obvious spam (or suspicious) comments are first marked as spam, then deleted. Maybe over the long term this has some effect as several annoying spammers have not been here in quite awhile. Other bloggers may know to whom I refer as many of us were slammed repeatedly.