The Edward Ringwald Blog: Now on WordPress!

As you’re probably aware, has been around since 2000 and the Edward Ringwald Blog has been around since 2007.  A lot has come a long way since I began my web site as a Introduction to the Internet college course project at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa in March 2000.  What began as Edward Ringwald’s Home Page morphed into the website Where I Strive To Have The Best Site Anywhere On The Internet For Everyone!

When I started the Edward Ringwald Blog in 2007 I hosted it on Blogger which is easy to use for the beginner who wants to get into blogging.  I agree, Blogger has a lot of good features that are easy to use, and I can’t complain about that!

But over the years, I needed something better to help manage the Edward Ringwald Blog.  When I changed web hosting companies in January 2018 my new web hosting provider, InMotion Hosting, gives me more for my money when it comes to hosting not only my website but my other websites,, and my website portal,  The ability to host blogs and forums and a whole lot more, more than what my previous web hosting provider had.

I’ve heard a lot of good things about WordPress, and I like the better capabilities that WordPress provides over Blogger.  So, I went ahead and installed WordPress on my site and I was extremely impressed at the look and feel over Blogger.

Right after I completed installation of WordPress it was just a matter of fine tuning WordPress to my liking including adding the cover pictures to the elements of the blog.  Then it came time to import the blog entries from Blogger over to WordPress.

And I am very impressed!  That said, I want to say welcome to the new home of the Edward Ringwald Blog, powered by WordPress.

From this day forward, all new posts for the Edwarad Ringwald Blog will be on the WordPress platform.  For the time being, the Edward Ringwald Blog on the Blogger platform will be maintained as a legacy blog meaning no new entries or updates will be made on the Blogger platform.  Eventually, I intend to set it up so that if you go to a blog entry on the Blogger platform you will be redirected to the new WordPress platform.

One more thing, and this is just a reminder on commenting:  When you comment on an entry, please keep it clean as the Edward Ringwald Website and Blog are family friendly sites, and I will do everything in my power to keep it that way.  In addition, you may want to review the Community Guidelines for the Edward Ringwald Blog over at my website portal,

And speaking of commenting, I have used to allow anonymous commenting on my posts with moderation.  With the changeover from Blogger to WordPress, I have changed the commenting system to where you will need a Facebook account in order to comment.  In fact, when the Tampa Bay Times revamped their website they revamped their article commenting to require a Facebook account as well:  Back then you could use a Facebook account or a site registration account but today the Tampa Bay Times took away the site registration for commenting on articles.  Besides, a comment made on a Facebook account provides more accountability vs. a comment made anonymously even with moderation.

So, in order to comment on a blog entry, simply write your comment.  If you are prompted to log in to Facebook, do so; be assured your Facebook login details stay with Facebook.  You will have the option to select whether you want to share your comment on your Facebook timeline; if you want to simply check the box.  If not, just leave the box unchecked.  If you are already logged in to Facebook, your profile picture will appear to the left of the comment box.  Once again, all comments are subject to moderation.

Once again, welcome to the new home of the Edward Ringwald Blog, proudly powered by WordPress!

The Edward Ringwald Websites has a new hosting home!

The Edward Ringwald websites has just recently moved into a new hosting home!  I have been with our current web hosting provider for a few years; however, my current web hosting provider was recently acquired and the costs to keep the websites on my current web hosting provider keep going up.  And up.  And still up every year.  An important point when you are watching your finances.
So, I had to go shopping for a new web hosting provider and I managed to find one.  After evaluating a few web hosting providers I settled on InMotion Web Hosting after reading the positive reviews it received on cNet.  I visited InMotion’s web site and went through a demonstration of the web hosting products and services InMotion has to offer.  I was very impressed with the features you get for the level of web hosting you want.
That said, I signed up with InMotion.  Another great feature of InMotion is their website transfer service in which their support team will move your website from your current hosting provider to InMotion; I took advantage of this valuable service as soon as I signed up for hosting and they did an awesome job in moving the files that keep the Edward Ringwald Websites running!
Now all that remains for me is to go in and update the settings in the domain names that will transition from my current hosting provider to InMotion.  As with the joys of the Internet, this involves DNS (which stands for Domain Name System) changes which take about 24 to 48 hours to propagate around the world as each DNS server is updated with the new information.
So, did I confuse you a little about DNS?  Well, it’s time for a Great American Teach-In Moment!
The DNS system delegates the responsibility of assigning domain names and mapping them to Internet resources, according to this article on Wikipedia.  In layman’s terms, when you type in (as an example) in your browser’s address bar and press enter, your request is passed on to the DNS server of your Internet provider.  The DNS server looks up the domain name and finds its unique IP (Internet Protocol) address assigned to it.  Once that IP address is found your browser sends the request to the IP address assigned to and the web server sends you the home page.  In short, DNS is like an electronic phone book of domains and their IP addresses.
When a change has to be made to the domain name’s DNS information, the web site owner makes the changes with the provider who maintains the domain name.  Once the changes are submitted due to so many DNS servers around the world the changes take about 24 to 48 hours to take place.
All that remains is for me to change the DNS information for the web site domains –,, and our web site portal, – to point to our new web hosting home.  In other words, when you type after the DNS is updated you will be taken to the same web site you know and see today, the only difference is that we are at a new web hosting home.  That will take place in the next couple of days and during the time of DNS propagation you might get some 404 error pages as we make the transition to our new web hosting home.

Christmas Holiday Season 2017 On The Train!

With another successful Great American Teach-In behind us and the Thanksgiving holidays fast approaching, the Christmas holiday season is upon us!  Just recently I gave my annual presentation on web design to students throughout the school day over at Thurgood Marshall Fundamental Middle School in St. Petersburg, which was very well received by both students and teachers!
Haven’t you been by the website portal for the websites of the Edward Ringwald Websites Network lately?  I recently did a major overhaul of the website portal and gave the page design and layout a more uniform look all across my websites.  If you haven’t checked it out lately, head on over to my websites portal at – it provides convenient access to the three websites of the Edward Ringwald Websites Network, which are, and of course!
OK.  Let’s change gears a little bit and set the mood for the 2017 Christmas holiday season, which traditionally begins the Day After Thanksgiving.  A lot of you out there will partake in Black Friday and the shopping crowds, but more than likely you may incorporate a themed train ride at one of Florida’s two official state railroad museums, the Florida Railroad Museum in Parrish as well as the Gold Coast Railroad Museum in Miami as part of your Christmas holiday season activities.
First, the Florida Railroad Museum will be kicking off its North Pole Express event beginning Thursday, 30 November 2017 and on these dates in December 2017:  1 to 3 December 2017, 7 to 10 December 2017 and 14 to 18 December 2017, which are on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays  (with the final run on Monday, 18 December 2017).  North Pole Express sells out rather quickly once tickets go on sale on Labor Day in September; a check of the Florida Railroad Museum website is advised for remaining ticket availability.
Second, the Gold Coast Railroad Museum will be kicking off its Polar Express event beginning Friday, 24 November 2017 as well as the remainder of Thanksgiving weekend, Saturday, 25 November 2017 and Sunday, 26 November 2017.  The Polar Express will also be held on these dates in December 2017:  1-3 December 2017, 8-10 December 2017 and 15-24 December 2017 (the final run is on Sunday, 24 December 2017 which is Christmas Eve).  Some dates for The Polar Express at the Gold Coast Railroad Museum are already sold out; you can check ticket availability for the remaining dates over at the Gold Coast Railroad Museum website.
As with any train themed Christmas event, arrival at either venue at least 30 minutes to an hour prior to train departure is highly recommended.  This will give you time to park, pick up your tickets and be in line for boarding.  In addition, hotel accommodations are a plus especially if you are traveling a considerable distance to either Miami or Parrish as the events take place in the evening hours.
The Florida Railroad Museum is located in Parrish just off of US 301 at 12210 83 St E and is 35 miles south of Tampa as well as 25 miles north of Sarasota on Interstate 75.  Easy access to the Florida Railroad Museum via Interstate 75’s Exit 229, also known as Moccasin Wallow Road.  From Interstate 75 follow Moccasin Wallow Road east for about five miles to US 301, then south on US 301 for 1/4 mile to the museum entrance.
The Gold Coast Railroad Museum is located in Miami on the grounds of Zoo Miami at 12450 SW 152nd Street, which is a mile and a half west of the Florida Turnpike at Exit 16.  It’s easy to get to from anywhere in South Florida as well as the Florida Keys and from the Tampa Bay region it’s a 4.5 hour drive via Interstate 75 and the Alligator Alley to the Florida Turnpike exit at Exit 5; south on the Florida Turnpike to Exit 16 and SW 152nd Street and you’ll be there in no time.
You ought to go on a Christmas themed train ride at one or (if you can) both railroad museums.  Believe me, a Christmas themed train ride will be a memorable Christmas holiday season for you and your family.

A minor update and is our Federal Government fueling Eating Disorders?

We’re a few months into 2016, and I know, I haven’t posted in a while.  I have been busy a lot trying to balance the load between my full time job and my weekends at the railroad museum.  In my spare time I have been tweaking little by little trying out some new features.

If you haven’t noticed, I made a slight change to the blog picture that you see to the left and also made it into an icon as you can see in the title bar of your browser.  How do you make this icon?  It’s time for a web design Great American Teach-In moment!

First, you take an image and resize it to a small image file, usually 100 x 100.  You can use any image editor including Microsoft Picture Manager (which comes with the Office suite) to resize the image.  Save the image file as a .jpg file.

But you are not done yet!  There is one more step!

You have to convert the resized image into an icon file.  There are plenty of websites out there that will convert an image file into an icon for you, and I highly recommend the Favicon and App Icon Generator at Dan’s Tools.  The site is easy to use, but make sure you deselect the check mark for including your favicon in the public gallery before you click on create favicon.  The resulting file will be a favicon.ico file (the .ico extension tells Windows that it is an icon file).

Simply upload the favicon.ico file to your web server, add the HTML (link rel=”shortcut icon” href=”(location of your favicon file)”) for the favicon in your HTML header area on your web page, and you’re all set!

With the minor updates aside, let’s change gears here and discuss a subject that I haven’t got around to in a while.  Lately, if you go to your favorite restaurant you have more than likely seen something new on the menu:  Calorie counts.

You can thank the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the same law that gave us Obamacare.  A part of the law requires that chain restaurants post calorie counts in their menus, all in the name of encouraging Americans to live healthier lifestyles.  To me, I think these calorie counts posted prominently on printed menus and menu boards have the potential to scare people away, especially people who are fighting a battle with eating disorders such as Anorexia Nervosa.

Is our Federal Government requiring restaurants to post calorie counts on the menus fueling people with eating disorders?  This article I found at on the Federal Government’s mandatory calorie counts being hazardous to your health tells it all.

According to the article, twenty million women as well as ten million men (as of 2011) struggle with one form of eating disorder or another, including Anorexia Nervosa.  An eating disorder is a serious condition, both physically and mentally, in which a person avoids eating food for fear of weight gain.  The road to recovery for someone with an eating disorder is a long road to recovery requiring the help of a psychiatrist, clinical psychologist as well as a counselor specializing in eating disorders.  Most people with eating disorders are helped on an outpatient basis but a good number (especially the more severe cases) require some form of inpatient treatment, usually at a treatment facility specializing in eating disorders.

A person who is recovering from an eating disorder is usually taught to stop counting calories and stop weighing oneself as a part of therapy, according to the article.  Unfortunately, when a person in recovery from an eating disorder walks into a restaurant for a get together with friends and/or family, once the calorie counts are seen on the menu that person could potentially face an anxiety attack, worried about weight gain and appearance.  Is this what our Federal Government is doing to scare away people with eating disorders from restaurants?

My opinion is this:  Calorie counts have no place on a restaurant’s printed menu or on a menu board.  However, restaurants can make nutritional information including calorie counts available to the customer upon request, as is present practice.  But don’t post calorie counts to scare away customers!

Clearly, this is one part of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that should be repealed.  Our Federal Government should not be in the nanny business scaring people with calorie counts prominently posted.

Memorial Day 2015

As Memorial Day 2015 approaches, it is the start of the summer season!  School will be just wrapping up for the 2014-15 school year and the countless high school graduations, not to mention those summer road trips.
But there’s the real meaning of Memorial Day, which is celebrated on the last Monday of May.  It is a time to remember our men and women of the United States Armed Forces who have given the supreme sacrifice to keep our nation – as well as our cherished freedoms that we Americans take for granted – safe.
And while we’re on that same subject, let’s not forget our veterans who have somehow succumbed to the restrictive confines of guardianship thanks to Chapter 744 of the Florida Statutes.  All it takes is the allegations of a concerned adult, especially a social worker, to begin a process which destroys a veteran’s dignity, respect and well being.
To our veterans out there observing Memorial Day, we salute you!

Has Zephyrhills High School become a correctional institution? Or a mini-North Korea?

Previously I have covered numerous topics regarding school principals who trump parental rights with all the power at their disposal, the most noteworthy being Virgil Mills Elementary School and their anti-parental rights policy which can turn parents into criminals by the mere issuance of a trespass warning.  Now our public schools are getting much more like a closed neverworld akin to a correctional facility or even a mini-North Korea.

Of recently, high school principals are pushing all their power over their students to a new level.  A great example can be found at Zephyrhills High School in Zephyrhills, which is 20 miles northeast of Tampa.  On the edict of Zephyrhills High School’s principal, Andrew Frelick, he has ordered that all students needing to use the restroom be under a strict staff escort at all times, according to Bay News 9 and WTSP 10 News.

What?  Bathroom escort at all times?  Has Zephyrhills High School become a state correctional facility?  Or, better yet, has Zephyrhills High School seceded from the United States?  To me, this is absurd.

Unfortunately, principal Andrew Frelick’s edict turned the entire Zephyrhills High School student body of 1,500 into state correctional institution inmates.  Let’s make that better:  Principal Andrew Frelick decided to let Zephyrhills High School secede from the United States and become a territory of the repressive Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which we also know as North Korea.  I would be sure that North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, would like administering an American high school from Pyongyang.

After all, if you happen to travel to North Korea – which the U.S. State Department considers non-routine for American citizens – you will be under escort at all times by your tour guide who is an agent of the North Korean government from the time you step off the plane at Pyongyang and your passport and visa are checked to the time you get back on the plane to head to Beijing to catch your return flight home.  While you are in North Korea, the threat of detention (not the detention you see in an American public school for minor transgressions of school rules) and imprisonment looms over your head at all times, even if you have the proper paperwork to enter North Korea.

Besides, having to be escorted to the restroom at Zephyrhills High School – or anywhere else on campus – is demeaning to students.  That’s like treating students like state prison inmates, only without the handcuffs and leg irons that are applied by the correctional officers prior to moving a prisoner from a cell.

Perhaps Dr. Kurt Browning, the Pasco County Superintendent of Schools, needs to overrule principal Andrew Frelick’s authority and do away with this draconian treatment of students who need to use the restroom.  If a school principal is concerned about abuse of restroom privileges, there are other ways to address the issue.

After all, Dr. Browning, as superintendent of schools for Pasco County, is the head principal in charge.

Parents of students in Zephyrhills High School, you have a voice.  Voice your displeasure to Zephyrhills High School principal Andrew Frelick.  Voice your displeasure to Pasco County Schools Superintendent Dr. Kurt Browning as well as to the Pasco County School Board in Land o’ Lakes.

Believe me, if I had any children attending Zephyrhills High School, they would be immediately pulled out of that school and either sent to private school or homeschool.  Students are people, not prison inmates nor North Korean citizens.

Besides, Dr. Browning needs to replace Andrew Frelick as principal of Zephyrhills High School with another principal that cares not only about students but their parents as well.  By enacting this draconian bathroom escort policy and treating students like prison inmates or North Korean citizens, Principal Andrew Frelick does not care one bit about his students.

That’s my opinion.

NOTE:  Comments for this blog entry are closed.

Day Out With Thomas 2015

I know, I’ve been busy with a lot of things but I try to keep the Edward Ringwald Blog as fresh as possible with new content.  But we got a friendly tank engine that you may know which is just around the corner.
If you guessed Day Out With Thomas, you are right!  Day Out With Thomas 2015 is just around the corner at both the Gold Coast Railroad Museum in Miami as well as the Florida Railroad Museum in Parrish!
Here are the dates for Day Out With Thomas 2015 in March at the two railroad museums:
Gold Coast Railroad Museum:  7 and 8 March 2015 as well as 14 and 15 March 2015.  Admission is $20.00.
Florida Railroad Museum:  14 and 15 March 2015 as well as 21 and 22 March 2015.  Admission is $19.00.
Advance purchase of tickets for Day Out With Thomas is highly recommended.  That way, you can purchase your tickets online and on the day of the event, just head on over to the Will Call window and pick up your tickets.  I agree, you and your family will have plenty of Thomas fun!
To purchase tickets, click on either the Gold Coast Railroad Museum or the Florida Railroad Museum links above to go to that railroad museum’s website.  Then click on the link at the railroad museum website for Day Out With Thomas and select the date and time for your ride.
OK.  Now where is the Gold Coast Railroad Museum in Miami as well as the Florida Railroad Museum in Parrish?  Glad you asked!
The Gold Coast Railroad Museum is located in Miami on the grounds of Zoo Miami, 12450 SW 152nd Street in Miami.  The entrance to both the zoo and the museum is located about a mile west of the Florida Turnpike at Exit 16, which is the exit for FL 992, SW 152nd Street.  From southwest Florida follow Interstate 75 across Alligator Alley to Exit 5, which is the exit for southbound Florida Turnpike.  Continue south on the turnpike to Exit 16, SW 152nd Street.
The Florida Railroad Museum is located in Parrish, east of US 301 at 12210 83rd Street East.  The museum is 35 miles south of Tampa, 15 miles south of St. Petersburg (via Interstate 275 and the Sunshine Skyway) and 25 miles north of Sarasota and can be reached from Interstate 75 at Exit 229, Moccasin Wallow Road.  East on Moccasin Wallow Road for five miles to US 301, then south on US 301 to 83rd Street East and the museum entrance.
For those of you coming from St. Petersburg via Interstate 275 and the Sunshine Skyway, follow Interstate 275 to its southern terminus at Interstate 75.  When you get to Interstate 75 you will want to follow the signage for northbound Interstate 75 to Tampa but you will exit at the very next exit at Exit 229, Moccasin Wallow Road to Parrish.
Be sure to check out my adventures with the 2014 Day Out With Thomas at two railroad museums in two states over at!  That way, you can get yourself an idea of what a Day Out With Thomas is like.  In fact, HiT Entertainment – the proprietors of Thomas the Tank Engine including Day Out With Thomas – have plenty of great ideas so that you and your children can plan for an exciting Day Out With Thomas!

As 31 December 2014 gives way into 1 January 2015

As 2014 slowly fades into the sunset and 2015 rises at dawn, I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! In Spanish, Feliz Navidad y Feliz Año Nuevo! In Slovenian, Vesel božič i Srečno novo leto! And in German, Frohe Weihnachten und Glückliches neues Jahr!

I hope everyone had a happy and safe Christmas and New Year.  Whether you went to First Night in downtown St. Petersburg and watched the fireworks as midnight rolled around or stayed at home and watched the ball drop in Times Square in New York City at the stroke of midnight, we will say goodbye to 2014 and hello to 2015.

Getting to some website notes, I finally got the Christmas lights page up for 2014 after all the website coding and testing prior to putting the pages and pictures live.  Now that I am using CoffeeCup HTML Editor as my web design software, it takes a lot of getting used to:  Making sure the HTML is correct to the letter and making sure all the references are in their right places.  But I think CoffeeCup HTML Editor is much more robust and it gives you more control over what you want to show out there on the web.

The good news?  I am going to leave the Christmas 2014 page up for a good part of 2015 so that everyone can come by and check it out.  In 2014 I feature not only two light displays in St. Petersburg but I also feature Christmas themed train excursions at four different railroad museums in two states!

Now on to 2015.

Today as I am writing this entry I came across an ABC Action News Taking Action For You article by Jackie Callaway which should have you concerned, especially in this day and age of data breaches involving Target and The Home Depot:  Retailers asking for and scanning your ID when you have to return an item.  That in itself is very scary and you should be concerned if you care about your privacy, especially in a retail environment.

As I wrote in a blog entry back in December 2011 here are some important pointers on what you need to do when it comes to retail returns:

1.   Save your receipts!  This will eliminate plenty of inconvenience when you go to exchange or return an item. If you do not have your original receipt with you, more than likely you will be offered store credit so that you can purchase another item.  Check your store’s return policy; it can be found online on the retailer’s web site or posted in store at the customer service desk.  In addition, be aware of any restocking fees that may be imposed.

2.  If a retailer demands ID and scans the ID somewhere, this is a time when red flags should go up.  More and more retailers are demanding ID as a part of the return process in order to deter fraudulent returns; if you hand the store clerk your ID you are unwittingly handing over your personal information to a third party called The Retail Equation out of Irvine, CA.  This should definitely have you concerned.

As we hear of more and more data breach incidents with retailers – despite retailer policies on protecting the privacy of its customers – any retailer requiring and capturing ID as part of the returns process amounts to nothing more than a retailer dabbling into your personal affairs as well as a recipe for identity theft.

That being said, what should you do if a retailer demands ID from you as part of the returns process and the retailer captures your ID data?

The answer is very simple:  If you have an alternate form of ID other than a driver’s license, use it.  If you have an United States Passport or Passport Card, USE IT.  NEVER HAND OVER YOUR DRIVER LICENSE – ESPECIALLY A FLORIDA DRIVER LICENSE – TO A RETAILER UNLESS IT IS THE ONLY ID YOU HAVE!

For starters, a Florida Driver License is the worst identity document in the nation to have in your possession other than for operating a motor vehicle, which is the law.  Thanks to the Federal REAL ID law enacted in 2010, and the relevant Florida Statutes that were changed in order to comply with REAL ID, your Florida Driver License has on it your physical street address.  That in itself is a goldmine for stalkers and domestic violence perpetrators who somehow can get their hands on your driver license data.  In addition, a retailer has no business finding out where you live.

Before REAL ID, you could have a post office box mailing address on your driver license in order to minimize the risk of your personal information being compromised.  Today, only law enforcement officers are allowed to substitute their post office box mailing addresses in place of a physical street address on a driver license, if any.  Did Congress have any compassion for victims of stalking or domestic violence when REAL ID was passed?

Besides, despite federal laws to the contrary the State of Florida has a habit of selling your name and address information on your driver’s license to third parties.  Which leads me to wonder:  If the State of Florida is selling your personal information to third parties, I imagine retailers with ID required and captured policies – such as Best Buy, for instance – are doing the same thing.

And another thing to ponder is of course the data breach incidents that have happened with Target and The Home Depot.  All it takes is a skilled hacker to harvest your personal information.  One day we will go online or turn on the TV and the news will have a breaking news alert:  Major data breach incident involving The Retail Equation.

Any retailer that requires ID when you return an item will also try to claim that it is also their policy to help deter identity theft. Any retailer claiming the purpose of requiring ID to help deter identity theft is a false statement. Besides, store clerks have been involved in identity theft cases as the perpetrators!

Again, if you got a passport or passport card, use it as ID.  I know, passport books are expensive but you can get a passport card from the United States State Department for $30.  Besides, a passport card is valid for ten years as opposed to a Florida Driver License which is only valid for eight years depending on your driving record.  Not only you will have an alternative form of ID which meets federal REAL ID requirements for boarding aircraft when flying domestically and entering federal facilities, you can use it for trips to Canada and Mexico when you cross the border by land.  The only time you would have to invest in a passport book is if you are traveling by air internationally including Canada and Mexico.

If you have a post office box as a mailing address, use it to your benefit. If in the event a retailer requires a street address, give your work street address – not the street address where you live. Again, residential street addresses are a goldmine not only for dabbling store clerks but for stalkers and domestic violence perpetrators as mentioned earlier.

Be sure to hang on to your driver’s license, but put that away in a safe place in your wallet or purse. The only time you need to produce your driver’s license is in these situations:

1. While you are operating a motor vehicle.
2. In the event of a traffic stop.
3. In the event of a motor vehicle accident.
Remember, you must carry your registration and proof of motor vehicle insurance as well – it’s the law!
4. When you rent a car – after all, it is illegal for any rental car company such as Alamo or Dollar to rent to anyone without a valid driver’s license.

Once again: If you are asked for ID by a retail store clerk, pull out your passport or passport card if you got one. This solves 99% of all ID required issues when it comes to retailers.

Now here’s my take on retailers requiring ID when you return an item for exchange or refund, especially in light of the retailer data breach incidents:

1. Retailers have a right to control return fraud. Asking the customer for his name and address is the first step and using the information only for the purpose of processing the return and destroying the information collected from the customer after a period of time – such as 60 days – ensures privacy for the customer.

2. If a retailer wants to require ID for a return, that’s their business. At least the information from the ID should not be captured and held in a computer database subject to unauthorized access, as is the case with The Retail Equation.

3. To law enforcement or to a rental car company, a driver’s license is one thing. However, to retailers such as Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Toys R Us or any other retailer known to ask for and capture IDs from customers as well as The Retail Equation, my residential street address – in other words, where I live – is none of your business

Again, as the final seconds of 2014 tick away into the first seconds of 2015, I would like to say Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2015!

Will Thanksgiving become an extinct American holiday? Just see what Corporate Retail America is doing!

Last year right around this time I posted an article on my blog about my view as well as my reaction to retailers that want to make a quick profit before Black Friday by opening their doors on Thanksgiving Day.  Now that Thanksgiving 2014 and the Christmas holiday season is just on the horizon the trend of retailers opening their doors on Thanksgiving Day is reaching an alarming rate.

Sound concerned?  You should be.

I got to agree with you 100 percent:  Thanksgiving and the start of the Christmas holiday season is my favorite time of year.  Thanksgiving is a time to be with family and friends, especially when you gather around the table and enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner.  And we can’t forget the rites and rituals of Thanksgiving including of course the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City that is televised live by your local NBC affiliate (which for us Tampa/St. Petersburg residents, is shown on WFLA-TV Channel 8) and the constant stream of Christmas music everywhere that kicks off the Christmas holiday season.

Back in my childhood days, I remember when practically everything retail was indeed closed on Thanksgiving Day, even fast food restaurants such as McDonald’s.  In fact, I still remember the wording on the store hours posted at the door into McDonald’s:  We rest on Thanksgiving and Christmas.  The only places that were open on Thanksgiving included gas stations and convenience stores.

Thanksgiving is indeed a true time to be with family.  Thanksgiving is indeed a true time to be with friends too.  It certainly is, and I believe it should stay that way.

Except to Corporate Retail America.

You know all about Black Friday, the Day After Thanksgiving.  That’s the day when you can shop all over for the great deals!  In the past, retailers have opened their doors early in the morning on Black Friday in order to gain a competitive edge.

Now that competitive edge has crossed into a newer kind of territory which would have been unheard of fifteen, ten or even five years ago:  Opening for business on Thanksgiving Day.

What?  Opening for business on Thanksgiving Day?  You got to be kidding me.

Before I go on further, please let me emphasize that this is about retailers deciding to be open on Thanksgiving Day.  There are services that have to be open on all holidays including Thanksgiving, and that includes public safety (fire/police/EMS) and transportation providers – after all, we depend on our courageous public safety officials to keep us safe and we depend on our transportation providers to get us where we want to go.  Ditto for mid- to upscale restaurants that provide an option for those that want to partake in the tradition of Thanksgiving but for one reason or another cannot prepare a Thanksgiving dinner.

Unfortunately, Corporate Retail America made a decision on how to make a quick profit now that the Christmas holiday season is just on the horizon.  Let’s be a lot more competitive as it can by throwing Thanksgiving Day in the shredder and open for business on the last Thursday in November just like any other regular day.

Yeah, be competitive all right.  But think of what Corporate Retail America is doing here:  Requiring employees that work for a retailer that has decided to open on Thanksgiving Day to work on Thanksgiving Day, away from family and friends that could otherwise enjoy the Thanksgiving Day holiday at home enjoying the traditional Thanksgiving dinner.  All in the name of greed and profit.

By so doing, Corporate Retail America has decided to do away with Thanksgiving as we know it even though Thanksgiving is a major American national holiday.  If you want to get rid of Thanksgiving altogether you might as well consider adding a week to the school calendar and have school on the week that used to be Thanksgiving.

In fact, Corporate Retail America can lobby Congress all it wants to in order to remove Thanksgiving as a legal American holiday.  if Corporate Retail America succeeds, then Thanksgiving as we know it in America will be in all likelihood extinct.

If you think Corporate Retail America is doing anything to erase Thanksgiving as an American national holiday, it can by opening for business on Thanksgiving Day.  Believe me, repealing Thanksgiving as an American national holiday will not happen.

After all, Thanksgiving is deeply rooted in American tradition beginning from the days when the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts in 1620 and earlier when Juan Ponce de Leon landed on Florida’s east coast near St. Augustine in 1513.  After all, Florida at the time was still a part of Spain until 1819 when the Adams-Onis treaty was signed that gave Florida to the United States.

Thanksgiving became a national holiday in 1863 when, during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of Thanksgiving to be celebrated on the final Thursday in November.  Thanksgiving as we know it today on the fourth Thursday of November was fixed into law by Congress beginning in 1942, according to Wikipedia.

Believe me, any attempt at a repeal of Thanksgiving as an American national holiday, especially at the hands of Corporate Retail America, will not happen.   It won’t.

Here is my view of Thanksgiving as an American national holiday, and Corporate Retail America’s attempt to make Thanksgiving extinct:

1.  Being a native born American citizen and a native born Floridian, I firmly and strongly believe in all the holidays that America celebrates, including Thanksgiving as well as Christmas.

2.  Thanksgiving is a holiday to be with family and friends.  That being said, I do not conduct any business whatsoever on Thanksgiving Day.  Besides, I was born and raised in an era where practically everything was closed on Thanksgiving Day and we knew better to stock up on what we need before Thanksgiving.  It is very unfortunate that we now live in an era of instant gratification, also known as the I gotta have this right now era.

3.  My message to Corporate Retail America is this as far as opening on Thanksgiving Day is concerned and ruining the livelihood of your employees and associates who would rather be home with family and friends:  If the spirit of the American holidays such as Thanksgiving offends you in any way, shape or form, please consider leaving the United States of America and find another country where our American holidays are not celebrated, preferably a country where human rights and civil liberties are grossly violated.

What can you do to send a loud and clear message to tell Corporate Retail America to keep their profit greedy hands off of our American national holidays?  After all, one person can’t move a locomotive (or even a mound of Interstate 275 overpass dirt) by hand but there is strength in numbers!

1.  First and foremost, don’t spend your hard earned money on Thanksgiving Day at retailers that decide to violate the spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday by being open.

2.  If you live in Maine, Massachusetts or Rhode Island consider yourself lucky:  Your state laws forbid most retailers from opening for business on Thanksgiving Day among the major holidays.  Unfortunately, no law forbidding retailers from opening for business in Florida exists:  Call, email or write your legislators in Tallahassee and tell them that Thanksgiving is a holiday and retailers need to show respect for the Thanksgiving holiday by not being open for business.

3.  Patronize retailers that show respect for their employees and their families by being closed on Thanksgiving Day.  Don’t give retailers that disrespect family values your business.

That being said, we need to take back Thanksgiving as it should be – a holiday with friends and family.  And we do need to take back Thanksgiving as we know it now before it’s too late.

With Thanksgiving upon us, onward with the Christmas holiday season!

Election Day 2014 – Be Ready at the Polls!

On Tuesday, 4 November 2014 we Floridians go to the polls to elect a Governor of the State of Florida among other things.  Ever since Rick Scott got elected governor four years ago in 2010 the State of Florida as we see it is not the same.
After all, Rick Scott did nothing more than turn against the people of the great State of Florida.  Ditto with Pam Bondi, Florida’s Attorney General.  You’ll be surprised:
Unauthorized turning of public meetings into private meetings and using law enforcement as a tool of intimidation such as using trespass warnings.
The refusal of federal healthcare money.
Throwing 25,000 potential jobs into the trash by refusing money for high speed rail between Tampa and Orlando on the Interstate 4 corridor.
The constant lying and deceit to the people of the State of Florida.
Telling people that were unemployed and are still looking for work that you are on your own.
People who are discriminated against in looking for work, including the use of credit reports as public record.
Your child treated by your school district as its property.  Try to even speak with your child’s teachers regarding your child’s progress and you will be trespassed from school property.
The warehousing of disabled and elderly persons into nursing homes and Assisted Living Facilities (ALF), thanks to Florida’s guardianship laws.
Making it very easy for a law abiding Floridian to acquire an arrest record, thanks to Pam Bondi’s goals.
The constant use of Section 810.09 – Florida’s trespassing law – as a tool of intimidation, especially against the homeless.
Making sure that Floridians that are legally registered to vote are purged from the voter rolls.
Now that Election Day 2014 is just around the corner, ask yourself:  Do you want four more years of the constant lying, deceit and threats that is now in Tallahassee?  Or do you want change in Tallahassee starting from the Governor downward?
We do not have to put up with another four years of Rick Scott as well as Pam Bondi.  We Floridians can make a change come on Tuesday, 4 November 2014 at our assigned polling place.

If you have already participated in early voting or you have voted by mail, that’s great!  For those of you that want to go to the polls it’s best to be prepared before you make the trek to your assigned polling place.

Remember, the polls are open from 7 AM to 7 PM on Election Day.  What if you are in line at your assigned polling place at 7 PM when the polls close?  As long as you are in line by 7 PM, you will be able to vote!

You can go over to the website of your county’s Supervisor of Elections and even generate a sample ballot based on where you live.  Print it out and take it with you so that you can use it as a reference when you actually vote.
For reference, here are links to the Supervisors of Elections in the Tampa Bay region (a selected list of Supervisors of Elections links):
Links to above Supervisors of Elections offices in the immediate Tampa Bay region are provided to you as a public service.
When you arrive at your assigned polling place, be sure to have a picture and signature ID with you when you go to check in with the poll worker.  A Florida Driver License or a Florida ID Card is best but Florida’s voter ID law allows you to use the following as ID when you go to vote:

Florida Driver License
Florida Identification Card
United States Passport (either the book or card is OK)
Debit or credit card
Student or Military ID
Retirement Center ID
Neighborhood Association ID
Public Assistance ID

When you registered to vote or updated your voting information, your Supervisor of Elections will more than likely sent you a Voter Information Card, which used to be a Voter Identification Card many years ago.  A Voter Information Card is NOT valid voter ID.
If in the event you do not have valid voter ID with you when you go to vote, you can still vote.  However, you will only be able to vote a provisional ballot and you will be given instructions on proving your identity at the polling place.
If you have previously requested a mail ballot and you decide to vote at your assigned polling place on Election Day, you can still vote!  Having your mail ballot with you is the best, as your mail ballot will be cancelled and you will be given a regular ballot.  However, if you do not have the mail ballot with you don’t fret – the poll worker will check to be sure that the mail ballot was not received.
So, what can we Floridians do to see change in Tallahassee?
That, my friend, is very simple.  Get on over to your assigned polling place on 4 November 2014 and VOTE!  I don’t care how you get to your assigned polling place, whether it may be by your own vehicle, on foot, by bicycle, by public transit or whatever, but get out there on Tuesday, 4 November 2014 and VOTE!!!