On Healthcare

It’s a long video, but Dr. Shiva offers a new, effective way to cut healthcare cost by something like 75%. It’s quite a sensible discussion.

No matter whether we keep the current healthcare payment system or change it, we need to find a different approach to the economics of healthcare. Currently, our system is philosophically based on Florence Nightingale’s 19th century findings.

Miniso

miniso

Miniso shops started popping up around Jinan last spring. They have a bright upbeat look that beckoned me inside. At first I just walked around trying to figure out what the store was. They have gadgets for computers like earphones, cleaners, and chargers. They have snack foods, dishes, clocks, toys, make up, skin care products, shoes, socks and more. Best of all most items cost 10 rmb or about $1.60. Plenty of others are 15 or 20 rmb ($2.50 – 3.30 more or less).

The shops look a lot like the Japanese clothing store Uniqlo with their white decor with red signs and their cheerful, multi-lingual announcements. A lot of the packages say “Miniso Japan” so I thought the company was Japanese. I soon became a regular shopper as the quality seemed good and the prices were great. It was a way to reconnect with Japan. Why pay $10 and up for toner when you can get it for $1.60? Why pay $11 for a neck pillow for my flight home when I can get one just as good for $2.50? Why buy a new bag for toiletries for probably $10 when you can get one that’s just as cute and functional for $2.50?

Then my students informed me that Miniso is a Chinese chain that apes a Japanese look, certainly inspired by Uniqlo. Their packaging had Japanese labels with Chinese ones pasted over them just as all imported products do. I felt quite hoodwinked, swindled. How dare you, Miniso. I wanted to make sure so I went to the Miniso website and figured out it is Chinese. They’ve got thousands of shops throughout China and just a couple in Tokyo and no where else in Japan. A Japanese company would certainly have stores in Osaka or Hiroshima before they’d open one in Jinan.

For quite sometime I stopped going to Miniso, but now I have gone back. I won’t by their skincare or food because if they’ll be deceptive with their origins, why wouldn’t they use inferior, untested ingredients in make up or cleansers? I no longer feel as good about shopping at Miniso, which is a shame. It’s rather pathetic that they want to appear as if they’re from Japan. I understand the idea about distancing a brand from China, but isn’t it sad that China has such a reputation for schlock that it has to?

Weekly Photo Challenge: Shadowed

a shadowed stupa in Thailand

a shadowed stupa in Thailand

Chinese vessel painted in shadows

Chinese vessel painted in shadows

Shadowed figure in Zibo

Shadowed figure in Zibo

1. Each week, we’ll provide a theme for creative inspiration. You take photographs based on your interpretation of the theme, and post them on your blog <strong>(a new post!) anytime before the following Friday when the next photo theme will be announced. 2. To make it easy for others to check out your photos, title your blog post “Weekly Photo Challenge: (theme of the week)” and be sure to use the “postaday″ tag. 3. Follow The Daily Post so that you don’t miss out on weekly challenge announcements, and subscribe to our newsletter – we’ll highlight great photos from each month’s most popular challenge.

Other great photos:

Weekly Photo Challenge: New

a new Japanese soft drink

a new Japanese soft drink

in New Orleans

in New Orleans

New free wifi service

New free wifi service

1. Each week, we’ll provide a theme for creative inspiration. You take photographs based on your interpretation of the theme, and post them on your blog <strong>(a new post!) anytime before the following Friday when the next photo theme will be announced. 2. To make it easy for others to check out your photos, title your blog post “Weekly Photo Challenge: (theme of the week)” and be sure to use the “postaday″ tag. 3. Follow The Daily Post so that you don’t miss out on weekly challenge announcements, and subscribe to our newsletter – we’ll highlight great photos from each month’s most popular challenge.

Other great photos:

Travel Theme: Merchandise

Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok, Thailand

Kathmandu, Nepal

Kathmandu, Nepal

Phnom Pehn, Cambodia

Phnom Pehn, Cambodia

Ailsa of Where’s My Backpack offers photographers inspiration each week. This week she gave us the theme Merchandise, which lets me share more market photos! She also shared some apt quotes which I’ve copied below as they always enrich the theme.

If you want to join in with your own interpretation of this week’s theme (everyone’s welcome!) Here’s what to do:

  1. Create your own post and title it Travel theme: Merchandise
  2. Include a link to this page in your post so others can find it too
  3. Get your post in by next Thursday, as the new travel theme comes out on Friday
  4. Don’t forget to subscribe to keep up to date on the latest weekly travel themes. Sign up via the email subscription link in the sidebar or RSS!
  5. You know the value of every article of merchandise, but if you don’t know the value of your own soul, it’s all foolishness. – Rumi

    Junk is the ideal product… the ultimate merchandise. – William S. Burroughs

Service Safaris

My homework this week was to do two “service safaris,” i.e. field trips in which we observe how the service of a business or organization is. I had thought of doing one on a special library, like the Chicago History Museum’s, but the CTA has started a new payment service and getting a card for that added a level of hassle that a holiday schedule couldn’t handle. So I wrote about a new grocery story in the Chicago area and a museum I’ve seen but never went into.

Introduction

For my service safari I first chose to visit Mariano’s a new grocery store chain that’s replaced a Chicago icon, Dominicks. I’d been told that Mariano’s is an elegant place to shop with lower prices than Whole Foods.

My second safari was to the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian, a small museum that focuses on the history and culture of indigenous North Americans.

Mariano’s

  • What was my goal of Mariano’s and was it met? My goal was to get some ingredients for a holiday party and to view this new curiosity. I did get my groceries, but I could have done so at other stores, I hoped for good service and that was delivered.
  • What was good about the service? When I entered the store, which is the size of a typical American city grocery store, I saw numerous employees dressed in white shirts with black ties and black pants. They looked “smart” and worked like busy bees stocking shelves while chatting with shoppers. I liked that the friendliness didn’t seem artificial.For example, one employee was adding organic blueberries to a display I was looking at, he naturally smiled and added how he really likes blueberries. It wasn’t hard sell or stilted the way exchanges at places like Bennigan’s usually were.Later I saw a man I took for a manager assisting a woman in a wheelchair who needed to get through an aisle.Like Whole Foods there were several places to get samples, and here often the staff as eager to chat. I got a sample of watermelon salad and was reading the recipe that was placed beside the little cups. The employee at this station quickly offered me a copy in anticipation of what I was thinking.When I got a cappuccino as I left I noticed that they also provide ice water with cucumbers or with lemon for their customers. What a nice touch!
  • What detracted from the experience? I had no complaints.
  • With whom did you interact? I spoke with a friendly employee stocking berries, an employee at a salad counter, one distributing fresh orange juice samples, a check out employee, who’s service was fine, but nothing special, and a barista when I got a cappuccino. I did have to wait a while for my coffee, but it was understandable because one person seemed to be on break and there was someone in front of me. My barista did clearly answer my question about obtaining a loyalty card.
  • Were you confused at any time during the experience? Finding the kiosk to input my loyalty card information was a little confusing. I’d suggest this be moved as when you come into the store it doesn’t face you, so shoppers will walk right by it. More stations or better signage can help.
  • Describe the physical space. The store is lit artistically rather than with the old fluorescent lighting. Thus atmosphere is created. The produce had a colorful, fresh vibe and the corner with flowers was kitty-corner from the entrance I used so it’s easily seen.  The floral department suggests a European style.The aisles are wide so there wasn’t much trouble moving the huge carts, which have spaces for two cup holders,  past other shoppers.The deli/bakery area looks very much like Whole Foods with central displays of food-to-go, baked goods, and cheeses. There seem to be twice as many employees as you’d find in Whole Foods.Outside the carts were stored under a metal “tent” that must protect them from the elements a bit.They had wine and spirits on shelves and a special glassed off wine cellar sort of room that seemed elitist. I figured the wine there would be too expensive for me.
  • Describe the customer service. As my previous comments state, I found Mariano’s hit the right note with friendly, yet not overbearing staff. Their wearing the white shirts and ties identified them and expressed professionalism. While I’m a big Trader Joe’s fan and like the Hawai’ian shirts, I didn’t find these uniforms made the staff seem snooty. To me it showed that the store owner wants to elevate grocery shopping a bit.

Mitchell’s Museum of the American Indian

  • What was the goal of this service and was it met? The mission of Mitchell’s Museum of the American Indian is to:introduce visitors from throughout the Chicago region to the cultures of American Indians. The Mitchell Museum’s mission is to promote and share a deeper understanding of Native American peoples through the collection, preservation, and interpretation of their traditional and contemporary art and material culture.I would say this small museum succeeds. I like museums, large and small, and see the place for smaller museums that don’t take a whole day to view. Like libraries in small towns, I don’t compare them to a big city’s library, but go in ready to experience some charm and a good collection. I come with an understanding that this institution doesn’t have lots of money.

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Sepia Saturday

open sepai

This week’s Sepia Saturday is an open theme. It’ll force me to post some Mr Selfridge photos I haven’t had time to upload. These are from Selfridge Archives and WTTW’s Ask Jeffrey segment on Harry Selfridge.

harry-selfridge-rosalie

Harry Selfridge (r) with daughter Rosalie

Rosalie and Violette Selfridge

Rosalie and Violette Selfridge

Selfridges_heritage_1885-1890

Marshall Fields where he innovated shopping

Marshall Fields where he innovated shopping

Older Harry on top of his store

Older Harry on top of his store

Oxford St. Selfridges in 1909

Oxford St. Selfridges in 1909