Just Shelley

This week in Missouri

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

For this week’s recap of Missouri news, I’m going to focus on one event that is both trivial and profound: the closure of 16 Starbucks in the St. Louis area.

First, some context. Bob Sutor provides a link to a PDF listing all of the closures, nationally. Bill Greer at Off the Map has taken this data and mapped the location, as well as providing analysis of most impacted areas. As you can see from his list, though we didn’t have the most closures, we’re probably one of the most impacted per capita.

One of the Starbucks being closed in this area is also the closest to where I live. However, I go to another store anyway, because it’s closer to where I walk. Of course, I stopped going to Starbucks, and therein lies the profound nature of this event.

It’s not surprising that the Starbucks stores haven’t been doing as well in St. Louis. We don’t have the highest unemployment rate, but we do have unemployment beyond the national average: we’re now at over 6% unemployed and rising, aided and abetted by the closure of these stores.

However, high unemployment doesn’t necessarily mean that a luxury food store like Starbucks is going to be impacted. After all, when a people have little money for new TVs or cars, they can still escape the circumstances of their lives with the illusion of wealth by buying a tiny box of chocolates at Godiva, or a Starbuck’s White Mocha.

This year, though, even the few dollars that might go for these small luxuries are being eaten up by food prices that shock every time we go to the store, as well as gas prices that leave all quiet and subdued at the pumps.

Instead of Starbucks, we’re going to McDonald’s for a hot cup of coffee, or bringing our own home brewed, as we head to the Zoo, Art Museum, Arch, or other free, and most importantly, local spot; to spend time with family or friends, or our own thoughts. To find comfort in things that don’t require credit cards.

It’s difficult to hear of yet more closures in St. Louis. Will the last person leaving St. Louis, please remember to pull the plug on the Mississippi. However, there is a sanity to the lifestyle changes we’re having to make. Someday, when this is all behind us, forgive me if I hope these closed Starbucks stores never return.


Josh Whedon strikes again

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I’m predisposed to like anything from Josh Whedon, but his newest, an online webisode show, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-Long Blog, is the cat’s jammies.

The 3-part show is hosted through Hulu, and can also be downloaded through iTunes. The first two shows are available, and the third goes up tomorrow. If you’re a fan of Firefly, keep an eye out for “Captain Hammer”, and you’ll see an old friend. However, everyone in the show is exceptional, including Neil Patrick Harris as Dr. Horrible, Felicia Day as Penny, Dr. Horrible’s secret love, and, yes, that is Nathan Fillion as an outstanding Captain Hammer.

What an absolute treat. And to add to the enjoyment, also check out the fan site. But check the show out quickly, because according to the fan site, the freebie shows will end July 20th.

(via Doug)



Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

The folks of St. Louis are still talking about the massive freeway crash that occurred Tuesday afternoon during rush hour. Three people have now died, and several are still in the hospital.

For those not from our area, the interchange between our Highway 40 (Interstate 64) and southbound I270 is incredibly busy in the afternoon rush hour. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for people to be forced to slow or even stop in the rightmost lane. Tuesday afternoon, a semi-truck hauling scrap aluminum hit, and literally ran over ten cars. Two people died immediately, and a third died today. Two of the three who died were Amish, traveling in a hired van heading to a funeral.

All the facts aren’t in and the police haven’t issued a report yet, but one thing is known: the truck driver was not paying attention before he hit the cars. A person driving besides the truck, who ended up getting hit by one of the cars knocked over the truck, estimated it was going 75 MPH when it hit the cars, and with no slowing down.

No charges have been filed yet. The driver has a clean record, and is emotionally wrecked, as you can imagine.

Tonight, one of the local news stations reported that the driver was distracted by a cellphone call just before the accident. I don’t think any of us are surprised.

The biggest cause of accidents, in this area and most likely elsewhere, is people not paying attention. They talk on the phone, they eat, try to read the newspaper while waiting at lights, check their email, and probably send Twitter updates. We travel in vehicles weighing thousands of pounds, traveling at high speeds, surrounded by other big, fast moving vehicles, and seem to think it’s perfectly acceptable to have a phone conversation with Joe, or quickly check that email from Jane—not to mention drinking hot coffee, smoking cigarettes that drop hot ash, or fiddling with the in-dash GPS, iPod, or radio.

Needless to say, the accident has awakened the call to make cellphone use while driving illegal. We shouldn’t need a law, though. We have something between our ears called a brain.


Squid Friday: too much squid

I love giant squid stories as much or more than most people, but I’ll pass on watching the 90 minute video of a giant squid dissection filmed in Melbourne, Australia.

However, I wouldn’t want to deprive the rest of you by not mentioning the story. How am I to know how you all get your jollies. Have fun.

(I need live squid movies. Send me live squid movies.)