0 Comments

Pac-Man invades Google Maps (VIDEO)

TECHNOLOGYPac-Man invades Google Maps for April Fools' Day (+video)Latest NewsSubscribe

  •  
  •  
  •  

MOREEMAIL

Turn your neighborhood into a Pac-Man game with this early April Fools joke from Google.

By Karis Hustad, Correspondent MARCH 31, 2015About video ads

You can already get your Google Maps directions in bicycle routes, walking paths, or public transportation.

Now your route comes in Pac-Man.

Just in time for April Fools' Day, Google created a “Pac-Man” viewing option on Google Maps that turns your maps and routes into a version of the arcade game, complete with point pellets and ghosts in hot pursuit. This time, however, they’re racing down your neighborhood’s streets.

Recommended: The 5 best Google Doodle games ever

When you open Google Maps, you’ll see a small Pac Man screen shot in the lower left hand corner. Click on that, and your view will be transformed into the arcade cult classic. One caveat: there needs to be enough roads to play. Pac-Man doesn’t dive into the ocean. But otherwise, you can go pretty much everywhere. If you get sick of playing on your town’s streets, hit the “I’m feeling lucky” button and it will take you and Pac-Man to places all around the world. Even the Taj Mahal, one Wired reporter found.

The 5 best Google Doodle games everPHOTOS OF THE DAY Photos of the day 03/31

On the support page, Google offers a few more clues of famous places where Pac-Man may pop up:

  • Head to the valley of the sun and earn your grade in the art of the game.
  • How well can you navigate the radiating streets of the distrito federal?
  • Victory is like gothic glockenspiel musikto our ears.
  • PAC-MAN and Ms. PAC-MAN can't agree on which side is prettier: the American or the Canadian. Which side do you fall on,eh?
  • Whether they're flashing blue or sporting their natural colors, Blinky, Pinky, Inky, and Clyde are always kakkoii. Even Vogue agrees they're living in the trendiest of neighborhoods.
  • After a chat with the Sphinx, PAC-MAN sounds more like "Dokki Dokki".
  • Pause game play to admire Chagall's stained glass windows and have a bit of chocolate.

Plus, they tease that more clues are on the way.

This isn’t the first time Google has brought Pac-Man to its main pages. In 2010, Google dedicated one of its Doodle’s to the game, letting Googlers play Pac-Man on a "GOOGLE" shaped maze.

No word yet on whether this April Fools fun will last beyond April 1. But until then, Pac-Man is on the loose. 

This Ain't no joke :


http://georgiajenkins1.totaltakeover.com/simple/

0 Comments

Does an apple a day really keep the doctor away?

The proverbial advice to eat an apple a day first appeared in print in 1866. Nearly 150 years later, a medical journal has used the excuse of April Fool's Day to publish a study that asks - seriously - whether this wisdom really does keep the doctor away.
The daily apple eaters in the study were more likely to successfully avoid prescription medication use than people who did not eat apples.

The study tells us that the "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" aphorism was coined in 1913 but was based on the original form with a different rhyme, some 149 years ago in Wales: "Eat an apple on going to bed and you'll keep the doctor from earning his bread," went the proverb in Pembrokeshire.

The University of Michigan School of Nursing researchers in Ann Arbor believe giving such medical proverbs an empirical evaluation "may allow us to profit from the wisdom of our predecessors."

For the study's measure of keeping the doctor away, Matthew Davis, PhD, and co-authors evaluated an outcome of no more than one visit a year to the doctor as a means of investigating the proverb's success in daily apple eaters compared with non-apple eaters.

So did a daily apple succeed in keeping the doctor away? No, it did not. There was no statistically meaningful difference in visits to the doctor for daily apple eaters in the analysis. But the study did find that an apple a day kept the pharmacist away.

'Avoiding the use of health care services'

When socio-demographic and health-related characteristics such as education and smoking were taken into account, daily apple eating was not associated with successfully keeping to a maximum of one self-reported doctor visit a year.

Of the 8,399 participants who answered a questionnaire to recall their dietary intakes, 9% (753) were apple eaters and the remainder, 7,646, were non-apple eaters.

The apple eaters showed higher educational attainment, were more likely to be from a racial or ethnic minority, and were less likely to smoke. The data for the analysis came from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey conducted during 2007-08 and 2009-10.

"While the direction of the associations we observed supports the superiority of apple eaters over non-apple eaters at avoiding the use of health care services, these differences largely lacked statistical significance," say the authors after accounting for the differences in apple-eaters that - beyond the effects of the apple-eating itself - could have explained why they used health care services less.

An apple a day means one of at least 7 cm diameter

To analyze apple-eating against visits to the doctor, the researchers compared daily apple eaters with non-apple eaters. An apple a day counted if the participants answered that they had at least 149 g of raw apple.

Eating less than this amount counted as no daily apple-eating, and apple consumption based purely on juices or sauces was also excluded. The study also looked for any response to increasing the amount of daily apple-eating by comparing doctor visits from people who ate no apples with those who ate one small apple, one medium apple or one large apple daily.

The analysis shows no relationship between apple "dose" and the likelihood of keeping the doctor away in terms of "avoiding health care services." Except, found the authors, for avoidance of prescription medications.

The study found that apple eaters were more likely to keep the doctor away, but this was before adjusting for the socio-demographic and health characteristics of the survey respondents - 39.0% of apple-eaters avoided more than one yearly doctor visit, compared with 33.9% of non-apple eaters.

The daily apple eaters were also more likely to successfully avoid prescription medication use (47.7% versus 41.8%) - and this difference survived statistical analysis.

The association between eating an apple a day and keeping the pharmacist away, then, was a statistically significant finding, whereas keeping the doctor away failed to hold true.

Nor did the proverb show any effect in an analysis of overnight hospital stays or mental health visits - there was no difference for apple eaters in the likelihood of keeping either of these two away.

The overall conclusion of this study was that only one finding supported the long-standing wisdom. Apple eaters "were somewhat more likely to avoid prescription medication use than non-apple eaters."

The authors say in their final analysis that promotion of apple consumption may have only "limited benefit" in reducing national health care spending, adding:

"In the age of evidence-based assertions, however, there may be merit to saying, 'An apple a day keeps the pharmacist away.'"

Check this out:


http://georgiajenkins1.totaltakeover.com/simple/

0 Comments

Can coffee help undo the damage of alcohol?

Drinking coffee may reduce the risk of cancer in heavy drinkers, research has found.

A new study shows the hot drink can protect against liver cancer, which is often associated with alcohol abuse.

For each cup consumed a day, there is about a 14 per cent decreased risk of liver cancer, found the study by the World Cancer Research Fund. 

But although the research found strong evidence that drinking coffee can reduce the risk of the disease, the report did not recommend the amount that should be drunk.

 

The report comes after research published by the same team in 2013 found drinking coffee reduces the risk of womb cancer.

And a study by the American Cancer Society found drinking four cups of coffee a day almost halves the risk of deadly mouth cancer.

The popular drink has already been linked with reducing the chances of getting bowel cancer, stroke and Alzheimer's disease.

However, drinking too much may increase heart rate and blood pressure and pregnant women are advised to limit their intake because of concerns that excess coffee may increase their chances of having small babies.

The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) report warned that while coffee might protect against the effects of alcohol abuse, just three alcoholic drinks a day can be enough to cause liver cancer.

 

 

The increase in risk per 10g of alcohol consumed – around one alcoholic drink – is about 4 per cent, says the World Cancer Research Fund.

As a result three or more drinks pose a significant cancer risk.

The review also found a strong association between obesity and liver cancer and that physical activity and fish consumption may also decrease the risk of liver cancer, although more research is needed before any firm conclusions can be reached.

The WCRF's continuous update project reviewed global research into the relationship between diet, weight and physical activity, and liver cancer.

In all, 34 studies were analysed covering 8.2million people of whom more than 24,500 had liver cancer.

Previous research by the project has shown alcohol to be strongly linked with a range of cancers, including liver.

+2

Risk: Previous research has shown alcohol to be strongly linked with a range of cancers, including liver

The WCRF recommends women should try to limit their alcohol intake to one drink per day and men to two.

Amanda McLean, director of WCRF UK, said: 'Around three or more drinks per day can be enough to cause liver cancer. Until now we were uncertain about the amount of alcohol likely to lead to liver cancer. But the research reviewed in this report is strong enough to be more specific.'

Globally, liver cancer was one of the five most common sites of cancer diagnosed in men in 2012, according to World Health Organisation figures.

The disease caused 745 000 deaths worldwide in the same year, it warned. 

SHOULD WE DRINK MORE COFFEE? 

To prevent weight gain, if you want to have a coffee, it’s wise to choose unsweetened versions with skimmed or semi-skimmed milk, according to the World Cancer Research Fund.

But when it comes to liver cancer risk, although there’s strong evidence that coffee may be beneficial, it's not clear why, says the charity.

We all drink coffee in different ways and it could be how much you drink, how regularly, the type of coffee or what you add to it that has an effect.

The report estimates that nearly a quarter of cases could be prevented if people kept a healthy weight and did not drink.

Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, chairman of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK, said: 'The findings from this study further demonstrate the urgent need for mandatory health warnings on alcohol products.'

Dr Sarah Jarvis, medical adviser for alcohol education charity Drinkaware, said the research revealed a worrying link with obesity, but some people had a 'blind spot' when it comes to the calories in alcohol.

She added: 'To help reduce the risk of getting alcohol-related liver cancer, it is best to drink within the lower-risk guidelines of 2-3 units a day for women, that's a 175ml glass of 13 per cent wine, or 3-4 units a day for men, a pint and a half of 4 per cent beer.'

Sir David Spiegelhalter, Winton professor of the public understanding of risk, University of Cambridge, said that while the increase in risk of liver cancer per 10g of alcohol consumed was about 4 per cent, that level of alcohol was 'extremely unlikely to cause cancer', especially as the report says the increase in risk only starts at levels above 5.5 units a day.

He added: 'Liver cancer is rare: about one in 100 men and one in 200 women get it. So if you already drink a lot, and then drink even more, your risk goes up a small amount.' 

Some Great Coffee:

http://gjenkins.mysiselkaffe.com


 



 

0 Comments

The slow death of the great American newsroom

In the past decade, as a percentage, more print journalists have lost their jobs than workers in any other significant American industry. (That bad news is felt just as keenly in Britain where a third of editorial jobs in newspapers have been lost since 2001.) The worst of the cuts, on both sides of the Atlantic, have fallen on larger local daily papers at what Americans call metro titles. A dozen historic papers have disappeared entirely in the US since 2007, and many more are ghost versions of what they used to be, weekly rather than daily, freesheets rather than broadsheets, without the resources required to hold city halls to account or give citizens a trusted vantage on their community and the world.

The reasons for this decline are familiar – the abrupt shift from print to pixels, the exponential rise in alternative sources of information, changes in lifestyle and reading habits, and, above all, the disastrous collapse of the city paper’s lifeblood – classified advertising – with the emergence of websites such as Craigslist and Gumtree. The implications are less often noted.

Stephan Salisbury, a prize-winning culture writer at the Philadelphia Inquirer for the past 36 years, puts them like this: “Newspapers stitch people together, weaving community with threads of information, and literally standing physically on the street, reminding people where they are and what they need to know. What happens to a community when community no longer matters and when information is simply an opportunity for niche marketing and branding in virtual space? Who covers the mayor? City council? Executive agencies? Courts?… It is this unravelling of our civic fabric that is the most grievous result of the decline of our newspapers. And it is the ordinary people struggling in the city who have lost the most, knowing less and less about where they are – even as the amount of information bombarding them grows daily at an astounding rate.”

Salisbury is among the contributors to a project by a photojournalist named Will Steacy. For five years from 2009, Steacy documented the struggle and decline of Salisbury’s paper, the Inquirer, the third oldest survivor in America, as it was hit by falling sales, bankruptcy, five changes of ownership, and round upon round of staff cuts. Steacy had seen the impact of this at first hand. His father, Tom, was an editor at the Inquirer, on the news desk, then foreign, for 29 years until he was laid off while recovering from heart surgery in 2011. Steacy’s pictures bear witness not only to the quick demise of a fabled kind of newsroom culture but also to the bitter ending to a century-and-a-half in his own family history – his great-great grandfather was the founding editor of Pennsylvania’s York Dispatchin 1876; his grandfather was editor of Allentown’s Call-Chronicle in the 1960s. Will Steacy was the last of a line, as he says, with ink in his blood.

 Photojournalist Will Steacy’s father, Tom, at work in 1973.

His photographs and the essays from journalists that accompany them will be published as a book next month, but first as a tribute newspaper with the Inquirer’s distinctive masthead. Journalists, as a group, rarely shy away from the elegiac, or the expression of dismay at the way things have turned out, the unfairnesses of life, but on this occasion the emotions seem justified. Steacy’s photos capture the very last knockings of a messy, creative, urgent way of life that served the population of Philadelphia with particular distinction – the Inquirer has won 20 Pulitzer prizes for its journalism in the period since 1972 when, in a move hard to imagine now, legendary newspaperman Gene Roberts resigned his job as national editor of the New York Times to become the Inquirer’s editor.

When Roberts left in 1990 the paper had 700 staff with a reputation for, as well as holding local government to account, also breaking big foreign stories – it was theInquirer that uncovered, for example, the full truth behind the Opec oil blockade of 1973 that was causing panic in Philadelphia and beyond, by dispatching its reporters to examine the shipping lists of Lloyd’s of London and to interrogate dock workers in Rotterdam and Genoa.

The paper was housed in a grand art deco building – like Clark Kent’s Daily Planet – at the heart of Philadelphia known, with some justification, as the Tower of Truth. The presses were in the basement, and every night, it was said, their rumble would keep the powers that be on restless alert.

Advertisement

By the time Steacy started taking pictures in 2009 the Inquirer staff was shrinking to its current level of 210. “The Inquirer used to send reporters and photographers to South America and Africa,” he says. “They once sent a guy off to study the fate of the black rhino for six months. Now no story gets done that involves much more than a half-hour drive from the city. Otherwise it is mostly wire stories.”

In 2012, as part of the terms of its sale from a hedge fund that had saved the paper from the receiver, the Tower of Truth was sold to a developer with plans for a casino, and the paper moved into the third floor of a former department store on the periphery of the city centre.

Steacy’s camera finds symbols of that era-ending shift everywhere it looks. He approaches the old newsroom, partly designed by his father, with an anthropologist’s eye, looking for the human traces of a stubborn civilisation in retreat. These are small gestures of defiance, the pinned up cuttings and cartoons that reflect on the consequences of a revolution of “news” to “content”; there are poignant observations of defeat, note-strewn reporters’ desks quietly become sanitised and paper-free in his pictures and then disappear entirely. In the heart of the city in which the constitution was written Steacy prefaces his project with a quote from Thomas Jefferson: “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government I should not hesitate for a moment to prefer the latter…”

FacebookTwitterPinterest The Tower of the Truth, went from busy newsroom, seen in 2009 from the desk of Don Sapatkin, a science editor… Photograph: Will SteacyFacebookTwitterPinterest ... to an empty shell in 2012 as the Inquirer relocated, with its Tower of Truth now destined to become a casino. Photograph: Will Steacy

Steacy talks to me about his work as a kind of inherited compulsion. “There is, strangely, this humble nature of the best people who work in newspapers to not want to make themselves the story,” he says. “So, ironically, it is a story that has largely gone untold.”

He embarked upon it partly to get to know something more of the world his father and grandfather knew, and which he would not know. As a boy he would occasionally come in to the Tower of Truth to meet his father after school and “run through the newsroom among these huge piles of paper like nothing I have ever seen”.

Apart from those memories, Steacy does not recall his father bringing much of his work home – allowing the mystery and mythology of what the old man did to stack up in his head. Only since his father had to clear his own desk have they talked freely about the “family business”.

“Dad was laid off before the 2012 change of ownership,” he says. “He had just had open-heart surgery. No doubt some CFO saw him as a very expensive employee in terms of health insurance. He had been there 29 years. It was incredibly painful, and that pain shifted for him toward bitterness and anger. It was me doing this project, I think, that helped him finally get through that. I found all these archives – my grandfather’s journals and so on – in the attic, and from that he opened up and was eventually comfortable talking about it.”

Steacy believes the story of metro newspapers has been a canary in the coalmine for other parts of society. “Technology can allow us to do things with greater efficiency and productivity, labour costs are reduced, but what I wanted to show is that there is a human element lost in that. We are in the middle of this huge transition, and the newspaper industry itself is very much at the front of this process that will happen in every other industry. The beneficiaries of this are a privileged and extremely wealthy few, but a broad spectrum of highly skilled workers are going to be displaced and out of luck for a very long time.”

One thing that is lost in a city like Philadelphia is another public space where people can rub shoulders on equal terms. In the Roberts era the paper sold nearly 700,000 copies in the city, it now sells just over 150,000. Advertising revenue has fallen three-quarters from $460m in the past decade. “The thing was,” Steacy says, “in Philadelphia the whole range of ethnic backgrounds, economic backgrounds, read the paper. It was the place where poor people read about rich people and rich people read about poor people. Black people read about white people and so on. It represented everyone in the city and gave them information and a voice they could trust. There was a time when dozens of eyes would read every story before it went to print. That kind of institutional integrity is in jeopardy.”

In a previous life Steacy would have wanted to be a staff photographer on a paper like the Inquirer but that job hardly now exists. He supports his wife and baby son on art projects, print sales and bits of editorial work. “Rates are what they were 30 years ago,” he says. “A photograph in my eyes is no longer worth a thousand words. Since 2000, 43 per cent of American staff newspaper photographers have been laid off. And we are in an era when 400m photographs are uploaded to Snapchat a day.”

I wonder what kinds of stories the Inquirer trades most successfully in these days?

“The stories that receive the most clicks on philly.com,” Steacy suggests “are weather stories, celebrity stories, sex stories. I guess best of all is a celebrity sex story with a good weather angle…”

Here is what I think:

http://georgiajenkins1.totaltakeover.com/simple/

Too much stuff: We collect it all our lives, and then what?

THE PALE YELLOW chair sliding down the scratched steel bed of the Goodwill tractor trailer lands with a thud atop the fractured remains of a cheap particleboard desk at Seattle’s South Transfer Station, an ignominious end for an object that, at one time, probably sparked joy for its owner.

Despite its perch atop a mound of garbage, it’s easy to imagine that this overstuffed chair was once the prized centerpiece of someone’s living room. Maybe kids jumped on it and cats napped on it, staining its arms. Maybe it enjoyed a second life in someone’s first apartment.

Even now, the chair exudes potential. With some imagination and a sturdy sewing machine, it could come to life again. But it’s too late for that.

In a few minutes, a bulldozer will crush it and push its broken remains into a pit, where it will be crammed into a container, loaded onto a trailer and driven, along with millions of other discards, to its final resting place: a dump in Oregon.

  • Most Read Stories
  • Narcotics dog hospitalized after ingesting meth
  • Newcomers arriving in record numbers, but from where?
  • Toppled fish truck makes a stinker of a commute Tuesday night
  • Seahawks to enter NFL draft loaded with picks
  • Amazon devouring quarter of Seattle's best office space

“Most of the stuff that comes in is totally reusable,’’ says Anthony Grant, a supervisor at the transfer station who has a front-row view of the detritus of our acquisitive lives. Grant has seen the contents of homes end up in a pile on the wet concrete floor. Lots of antiques, he says, and stuff from the 1960s.

For a while, transfer staff would yank items from the trash piles and set them aside for re-use by whoever was willing to haul it away. But then bureaucracy interfered — the usual stifling concerns about liability — and everything became trash again.

After decades of accumulating stuff, it seems we’re now obsessed with managing it and getting rid of it.

Last year, we spent about $7.7 billion on stuff to organize our stuff, and another $24 billion to store it. When those options maxed out, we bought books from tidying gurus like Marie Kondo offering tips on how to part with it.

Kondo notes that the closets and drawers of an average client contain 160 shirts, sweaters and other tops. Purging is suddenly virtuous.

“Thank your stuff,’’ she advises. “It’s been working hard for you.”

For many of us — especially baby boomers — stuff has become a burden too heavy to carry alone. Parents die or become ill, and suddenly there’s a whole other household of stuff to deal with. China, books, shoes, papers, old television consoles, mink coats and dusty felt hats from the Disneyland trip 40 years ago.

So we hire junk removal companies to clear out basements and attics. We hold garage sales and engage liquidators to sell off what they can. We rent dumpsters and haul our stuff to charities to sell for a good cause, creating an endless churn of stuff looking for new homes until we run out of options and simply throw it away.

MERLIN COFFEY is sitting in the corner of his dining room, parked on an antique French chair in front of a table stacked with china and silver serving sets. Around him, strangers pick through three floors worth of his belongings — thousands of items, nearly all of it acquired by his late wife, Mary Jane, who died in 2013 after 92 magnificent years on earth.

“She never threw anything away,’’ he says, without a hint of resentment or exasperation. Collecting was Mary Jane’s passion, and he indulged it, even when that passion filled every nook and cranny of their West Seattle home.

Mary Jane grew up on a sugar plantation in Hawaii, the daughter of the superintendent. She didn’t own much as a child and made up for it as an adult. For a time, she ran an antiques business in a storefront next to the restaurant the couple owned in Burien. But as her husband notes wryly, she did far more buying than selling.

Coffey grew up in Cowiche, “a wide spot in the road in Yakima County,” where his parents were migrant workers. Aside from tools and model planes, Coffey doesn’t collect much, and doesn’t feel particularly attached to the stuff that has shared his space for 56 years.

“I like a lot of it because she did,’’ he says.

The couple’s three sons, their children and their children’s children have already taken what they wanted, which wasn’t much, he says. That left Coffey, a spry 93-year-old former engineer, to dispose of the rest.

“We should have started five years ago, doing little by little,’’ he says of the paring down. “It’s essentially a situation you don’t plan on. You just gradually get old.”

Six months ago, he started boxing things but eventually gave up and hired Alyssa Stevens of Fruit Cocktail Collectibles in Seattle to sell the rest. Stevens, an appraiser who has been running estate sales for 15 years, went room by room through Coffey’s house, pricing items and taking photos of things to sell online. The process took a month and a half.

Today is the second go-round for the sale, and despite the blustery weather, there’s a steady flow of customers, drawn in by scores of photos Stevens posted.

Linda Gause of SeaTac spends about 20 minutes looking over Mary Jane’s collection of cookie jars perched on kitchen shelves. Gause has about 300 cookie jars at home — they even have their own room. She looks pained as she struggles to resist the urge to buy one more and walks into the kitchen to touch them a few times before deciding she can’t bring herself to drop another $100 to add to her collection, and leaves without one.

Coffey has been present for most of the sale days and admits that he’s had to check himself as people leave with treasures his wife had brought home, some from other people’s estate sales.

“You see it go, and think, ‘Maybe I can use that,’ ” he says. “(But) when you boil it down, I won’t be using much of anything.”

At his son’s urging, Coffey rented an apartment on Queen Anne. He moved some furniture and dishes into it. He also brought along a few Italian plates and a painting of Mary, Queen of Scots he said he wouldn’t part with “for money, love or nothing.”

“It’s a really good painting,’’ he says. “Very well done.”

The rest? He’s going to donate it to charity, he says. Mary Jane was his passion. Everything else is just stuff.

EXCEPT WHEN it isn’t.

Turns out that guilt and sentimentality — powerful feelings attached to the things we own — are reasons we hang onto stuff.

How do you get rid of Grandpa’s lucky football hat or the cranberry-colored glass dish your great-grandmother used to rest her powder-puff? How do you dispose of a library your mother spent a lifetime building, or discard the hulking kitchen table from your childhood home, even though it doesn’t fit in your apartment? The vintage toy collection inspires happy memories of childhood. The carved coconut reminds us of our honeymoon in Hawaii.

Buying things also gives us an emotional boost, yet behavioral studies show that the things we own bring us diminishing pleasure over time, and sometimes very quickly.

“The positive emotions associated with acquisition are short-lived,’’ according to a 2013 article in the Journal of Consumer Research by Marsha Richins, a distinguished marketing professor at the University of Missouri.

Richins found that “materialists” — people who buy more than other consumers — are willing to go into debt to buy things they can’t afford because they believe their lives will be transformed by the purchases.

“Although materialists still experience positive emotions after making a purchase, these emotions are less intense than before they actually acquire a product,’’ she noted.

We also tend to overvalue our stuff, ignoring the fact that collections of Beanie Babies, Precious Moments figurines and Thomas Kinkade paintings are worth pennies compared to what we paid for them.

Still, there are people who love their stuff and have no intention of parting with it until they’re departed. With 8,000 Americans turning 65 each day, more and more of us are going to be confronting our stuff. Because, let’s face it, either we get rid of it or someone else will.

GARY FOY plucks a pine cone from a plastic blue donation bin at the Goodwill store on Dearborn Avenue in South Seattle. He brings it up to eye level and becomes as excited as if he had just opened a Christmas present.

“I’ll get four or five of these, put ’em in a bag and sell it for a dollar,’’ he says, setting it aside and going on to the next item, a cartoonish metal dog sculpture.

“Yard art!” he says. “This is killer. I’m going to do $12 to $14 ’cause he’s cool.”

Foy has been pricing items for Goodwill for 10 years. He’s seen one of just about everything, he says, and items will often repeat. Usually, it’s driven by life phases: the kid who outgrew Pokeman, or Magic the Gathering cards, or the woman who said she liked dogs and ended up with a collection of dog figurines from friends who ran out of gift ideas.

Lately, there have been lots of electronic drum sets. There used to be a lot of old console televisions, but now flat-screen TVs are coming in as people get new ones. Household goods are a staple, as are clothing and furniture.

“People buy new stuff, and they only have a little bit of space,’’ Foy says.

Some stuff is rejected, but if Foy thinks it has value and is in good enough condition to sell, he’ll stick a price tag on it.

Seattle Goodwill runs 24 retail stores from Bellingham to Burien, and uses some of the revenue to fund job training and education. In 2012, the year of the charity’s most recent available tax return, Seattle Goodwill sold $93 million worth of stuff. That makes it the Big Kahuna in town: Salvation Army sold $9.3 million in donated goods through its Northwest stores, and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul sold $4.6 million in clothing and household goods in the Seattle area, tax records show.

“We put 100,000 items on the floor every day,’’ says Katherine Bourey, a Goodwill spokeswoman. “Some people come two, three, four times a week because they never know what’s going to be here.”

Although Goodwill sells some new merchandise, almost all of the goods it sells are donated by people such as Meg McDonald, 46, who just pulled up at the Dearborn donation site in a U-Haul truck. She parks between the orange cones, climbs down from the truck bed as Goodwill employees lift the back door, and starts unloading furniture: a bunk-bed frame, an end table, two couches, a chair . . .

It’s from a rental house. “I bring stuff here all the time,’’ she says. “In fact, I was here earlier buying stuff.”

ON A BUSY day, Goodwill employees will unload at least a car a minute, says Brent Frerichs, director of business development and strategies for the nonprofit in Seattle.

The furniture is shrink-wrapped in plastic and transported across the parking lot to storage until it’s ready to be sold. Other items are put into trailers painted with the phrase, “Someone’s going to love your stuff.”

Most of the donations come in around Christmas and the summer, when people tend to purge, but the stores operate year-round.

Occasionally, someone will bring over the contents of an entire house.

“It’s not a rare occurrence,’’ Frerichs says. “People are downsizing or moving into an apartment or retirement home. That’s the time when people are editing and sorting. We get a lot of people moving out of early childhood, so we get strollers . . . They’re moving onto the next stage of their lives. Styles evolve and families grow older.”

Sometimes they’ll donate something they bought at Goodwill: “It’s almost a joke that they’re renting it,’’ Frerichs says.

Donations are sorted — clothing by size and color — and put on the shop floor. What doesn’t make the cut is parted out to vendors, who buy everything from the wire inside Christmas lights to single shoes.

Items that don’t sell in four weeks get discounted for five days, and then moved out to one of Goodwill’s two clearance outlets, in Seattle and Everett. Regulars at the outlets sometimes wear surgical masks and wield mechanical claws so they don’t have to touch the clothing and bedding heaped into 10-foot-long bins.

People pick their way down rows, filling what look like canvas laundry hampers on wheels with blankets, sweaters and coats, dishware and boots. Mornings are for the hard-core shoppers, many of them involved in resale. The afternoons tend to attract younger people looking for cheap threads a la Macklemore, who filmed his “Thrift Shop” video in the Seattle outlet.

Macklemore scored a leopard mink coat for 99 cents, but could have just as easily walked away with a hutch or a couch for the same price.

Furniture at the clearance outlets is mostly on its last legs, and it’s only a matter of time before some of it will meet the fate of the pale yellow chair that ended up as trash at the Seattle transfer station.

The people throwing their stuff away might feel relieved, finally getting it out of the house. Whatever joy it once sparked is long gone, and the most pleasurable aspect of owning stuff — the moment just before you bought it — is but a distant memory.

Check this out :


http://georgiajenkins1.totaltakeover.com/beach/

  • Categories
  • Recent Posts