I expect the rain to turn to snow, something the meteorologists call a “reverse Fogelberg.” This isn’t that unusual. When did Spring ever arrive with the calendar’s definition? Besides last year. And that other year you remember. I’m always happy if the ice is gone on the sidewalk by tax time. After that, we’re owed.

Speaking of which:

 MONEY Generational split: some people read this story . . . .

The words on his robbery note were spelled incorrectly, authorities said, and he was unable to articulate his demands. So the confused teller at the downtown Washington bank turned the man away, saying she couldn’t help.


The FBI says the man didn’t fare much better at a second bank three blocks away. There, authorities said, it took the teller a few moments to realize that the man standing at her window April 1 was not a customer.

. . . and instantly thought “I have a gub.”


Do I have to explain? No? Good. Anyway, the foiled robber t went to a computer at the library after that, stuck the pistol against a USB port and asked for all its Bitcoins.

Do I have to explain that? I suppose so. If you're unclear on the meaning, use, and origin of Bitcoins, this should help. No, seriously, it will. Hot off the presses, too. 



Will anyone take a Bitcoin and sell you a cup of coffee? No. “Here, good fellow! Please take this is non-corporeal concept. It’s worth seventy dollars.”

"Sorry, pal, I prefer the non-corporeal concept associated with a rectangular plastic card, embossed with numbers and stamped with a recognizable logos. Semiotically speaking, those signifiers provide a reasonable reassurance I will be reimbursed in non-corporeal sums that nevertheless have been imbued with value, thanks to our shared assumptions about the current economic structure. Bitcoins may some day fill that role, but not now. So no, I won’t give you a cup of coffee for that Bitcoin."

"Yeah, well, I see why you’re going out of business."

BTW: when I read that “Caribou Shuts 80 Stores” I think “I hope they let everyone out first.” I read the story, thinking “Well, they’re closing one Minneapolis location - can ‘t be the one I go to.”

And it was. But that’s my Friday’s column.


MEMORIES Misty water-colored , etc. A look at some abandoned video stores. Why? Because the site has a guy who rounds up pictures of abandoned things, and these pictures Say Something About Us.

Once as common as the VHS and Betamax tapes they rented out, video stores these days are fading away faster than the images on a well-worn cassette someone forgot to rewind. These 10 abandoned video stores are caught between the night they closed and the day a more relevant tenant takes over the lease.

Well, Betamax tapes weren’t too common. In the early days of video-rental joints, the mix was probably 10 VHS for every Betamax. The images didn’t fade - they accumulated static and lost their crispness, so colors bloomed everywhere. And the bottom of the picture jiggled up and down. This is why I don’t lament the end of the video-rental store - now we see tape as a stop-gap technology, something we endured between vinyl and digital. Tape broke. Tape got loose. Tape got stuck. Good riddance.

A few examples in the list were big chains that went to DVDs, as if that might keep them relevant. Blockbuster and Hollywood were the big ones; there was . . .Help me out here, internet. What else? Movie Gallery, that was one. Rogers, that was another. Rogers? you ask. Yes, it surprised me, too. Rogers had something called Rogers Video Direct. They would mail you DVDs, like Netflix. It failed, because A) there was Netflix, and B) it was named Rogers.

IIRC, Rogers ran cable TV when that life-changing innovation rolled out through the Twin Cities. This is what you’d get when you ordered a movie:



Kids today have no idea how modern this felt. 

I don’t miss them. I miss the trips to the video store with toldder daughter, looking for something pastel and cheerful, but otherwise, no. They were out of that movie you wanted. The carpet smelled. Likewise, some people have no warm feelings for the small motels that lined the roads before the interstate. Hard water, cold shower, cheap soap, scratchy sheets, thin towels. But those who grew up in the era of the interstate miss the old motels: signage and modern style. As in:


Photo by Ed Freeman

Photo by Ed Freeman

Desert Realty, by Ed Freeman. More here; it's a much more interesting assembly of abandoned things. (via Coudal.)

BUSINESS Aaannnd he’s gone:


According to a report by CNBC former Apple Retail head Ron Johnson has been fired from his position as CEO of JC Penny, a job he had taken after leaving Apple in late 2011.

Readers might remember that Ron Johnson joined Apple from Target and helped build the retail giant that Apple is today, he introduced the Genius bar and other brilliant features during his ten years with Apple.


Penney’s shares dropped 51% during his tenure. The market cap was almost halved. So it’s not as if it came as a surprise, really. Too bad: he tried to do something new in retailing, which is stop fooling people with sales. But people want to be fooled. You can’t stand in the way of herds of people who are angry that they’re not being fooled. FOOL US LIKE YOU DID BEFORE! MARK EVERYTHING DOWN 23%! Expect the stores to be retooled accordingly.

The only question is where he'll work next; no doubt he'll land on his feet.

Unless Caribou already hired him, which would explain a few things.