Friday, April 2, 2021

Moving out of the mall to survive

Seminal retail brands like Macy’s, Gap and even Kay Jewelers were once a ubiquitous element of malls all over America, their mere presence was used to lure both shoppers and other lesser-known brands to rent space alongside them. But with America’s retail landscape in significant flux, these so-called anchor tenants are fleeing enclosed malls. In fact, more than a third of retail outlets are scaling back their mall footprint, a recent survey from BDO USA found. As well as pouring millions into online operations, many are heading outdoors to open-air shopping centers, throwing into question the future of hundreds of traditional malls. (Bloomberg)


Older millennials own but struggle

While more than half of older U.S. millennials (born between 1981-1988) own their homes, that’s still less than other generations at the same age. Around 60% of Gen X and 62% of baby boomers owned homes at this stage, yet just 54% of older millennials do. Among those, many were helped: 10% took a loan from their retirement accounts, while roughly 20% used a credit card to help with the purchase, and nearly 1 in 5 older millennials received financial aid from family, according to a survey. Debt is a barrier for those who don’t own homes, 17% say student loans stops them from home ownership. (CNBC)


Canada to begin issuing fines for travelers entering country with undeclared cannabis

The Canada Border Services Agency announced today that it will begin issuing fines to people who “fail to properly declare cannabis and cannabis products when crossing the border”, beginning March 29, 2021. The federal agency says this is a new tool they have to deal with those bringing cannabis into the country illegally, with fines ranging from $200-$2,000. The CBSA’s Administrative Monetary Penalty regime sets out specific monetary penalties for those travelers who “provide information to an officer that is not true, accurate, and complete” or those who don’t report any imported goods that contain cannabis.  In either of these cases, a border services officer would then seize the cannabis or cannabis products and issue a ticket for a monetary penalty ranging from $200 to $2,000. The amount decided will be based on factors such as whether the product was hidden or the travellers simply forgot to declare it, the quantity of cannabis products in question, and the traveller’s history. Authorities could also issue criminal penalties in severe or extreme cases. (Stratcann)


An amateur surfer rescued a man and a dog from the frigid waters of Lake Superior

The surfer was about to get into the lake to surf one last wave when a woman in a wheelchair told him that her 29-year-old aide had been pulled in after he jumped into the choppy waters to rescue her dog. The surfer struggled to get the man out “because the waves were so extreme and he wasn’t a good swimmer”.  He had to go back to the pier to throw the man a lifesaving ring in order to pull him out to safety. Then he jumped into the lake again to rescue the dog. The surfer will receive a police award for his heroic action and said that he was glad he was able to help. (Star Tribune)


Neighbors upset over blow-up dolls hanging from trees

A back-and-forth between next-door neighbors is now spilling over to the rest of a Colorado neighborhood. Four blow-up human dolls and a blow-up llama doll were hung from tree branches in the neighborhood over the weekend. Neighbors are taking issue with the dolls hanging in plain sight. The dolls hang over the property of the man who owns them. The dolls, intended to be little more than gag gifts, are not anatomically correct. The two neighbors directly involved have had disagreements over the years about everything from tree limbs to cars parked in the backyard. When asked why he displayed the dolls, the homeowner responded: “That’s all I could get.” The homeowner said it’s within his rights to keep the dolls up, and that’s what he plans to do. The Lakewood Police Department responded to a call to the location to try to settle the issue. Police said there is no criminal or ordinance violation, and like some holiday decorations that are put up, not everyone agrees with the display. (KMGH)


Microsoft wins U.S. Army contract for augmented reality headsets, worth up to $21.9 billion over 10 years

The Pentagon announced that Microsoft has won a contract to build more than 120,000 custom HoloLens augmented reality headsets for the U.S. Army. The contract could be worth up to $21.88 billion over 10 years. The deal shows Microsoft can generate meaningful revenue from a futuristic product resulting from years of research, beyond core areas such as operating systems and productivity software. It follows a $480 million contract Microsoft received to give the Army prototypes of the Integrated Visual Augmented System, or IVAS, in 2018. The new deal will involve providing production versions. The standard-issue HoloLens, which costs $3,500, enables people to see holograms overlaid over their actual environments and interact using hand and voice gestures. The headset enables soldiers, fight, rehearse and train in one system, the Army said in a statement. The deal makes Microsoft a more prominent technology supplier to the U.S. military. (United States Army)


School bans mullets, other ‘untidy’ haircuts, calls them ‘not acceptable’

While not bothered by the “business in the front,” it’s the “party in the back” that has troubled private school leaders enough to ban mullets. Trinity College in Perth, Australia is a school for boys from years four to 12, and in a recent newsletter, the school outlined why it is banning “the current trend” of mullets. In the newsletter, the school stated: “The current trend of growing the hair at the back of the head and/or closely cropping the sides of the head to accentuate the “mullet” style are untidy, non-conventional and not acceptable at Trinity College. As is the trend of long hair and fringes.” It’s not only mullets that are banned at Trinity College, students are also not allowed to have “rat tails, top knots, mohawks, extra-long fringes, or any other non-conventional style.” Students who show up to school with a mullet or any other banned style of haircut will be alerted to the violation by a school leader. Trinity College isn’t the first school in Australia to ban mullets, which are increasing in popularity in the country. Last month, Waverley College in Sydney banned mullets for the same reasons. (Trinity College)


Payrolls jump most in 6 months

Companies hired the most in six months during March, ADP Research Institute data shows. U.S. private employers added more than half a million payrolls, driven by leisure and hospitality as vaccination programs allowed the service sector to gradually reopen. Small and medium-sized businesses also predominated in the hiring report as the companies benefited from additional funding and direct payments to households under the most recent federal stimulus. (Reuters)


Delta to sell middle seats in May

Armrest battles are about to heat up again after Delta announced it’s going to start booking middle seats. The airline will end the pandemic-era safety measure of blocking off middle seats as of May 1, because “consumer demand and behaviors show us that confidence in travel is on the rise” as more people get vaccinated. Delta is the last U.S. airline blocking seats in regular economy. Its CEO stressed that stronger cleaning protocols and the elimination of change fees will be permanent and that mask wearing will continue to be enforced. (USA Today)


Gender parity will take 135 years

Amid a pandemic that has an outsized impact on female workers, the time it will take to close the global gender gap has increased from 99.5 years to 135.6, according to the global gender report produced by The World Economic Forum. Women around the world lost their jobs at a higher rate than men, 5% vs 3.9% among men, and sectors where job opportunities are growing are significantly underrepresented by women. In cloud computing, women make up just 14% of the workforce and in engineering, they comprise 20% of workers. The WEF has two major recommendations to reverse these trends:

  • Focus on long-term solutions for expanding the availability of childcare for all workers
  • Put structures in place so tech-intensive roles that are growing in the economy need to be filled by more female talent.

(World Economic Forum)


Thieves take locomotive for joyride, cause damage to two $30,000 switches

Alachua County, Florida deputies are investigating the case of a break-in and joyride of a locomotive in Newberry, Florida. The break-in was discovered earlier this week by the Florida Central Railroad, deputies say. However, the joyride is believed to have occurred between last Wednesday and Sunday. Officials say the 1959 EMD GP 18 was locked, but the suspect(s) may have gained access through a window. Two switches valued at $30,000 were damaged when the locomotive was put in motion. Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff’s office at (352) 955-1818 or Crime Stoppers of Alachua County at (352) 372-STOP. (My CBS 4)


Florida man breaks Guinness World Record for watching ‘Avengers: Endgame’ 191 times

A Florida-based personal trainer just broke a Guinness World Record by watching “Avengers: Endgame” in a movie theater more times than any other person. Specifically, he broke the record for “The Most Cinema Productions Attended – Same Film.” Each viewing was in a movie theater. It’s unclear how many movie theaters he watched the film in, or if he had to buy private showings because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He watched “Endgame” 191 times in 94 days, beginning on April 26, 2019. He celebrated the achievement with a tweet, saying, “I’m Officially Amazing!!!” He told the Guinness World Record that the achievement took a huge toll on his social life, his family and his general well-being.

  • “The most difficult part about this attempt was giving up my social life with my family, the gym (I lost 16 pounds of muscle) and managing my work hours and screening times at the theaters.”
  • He said “the support I got from family, friends, managers and staff from the theaters I visited” and the support from fans helped him see through to the end of the road.
  • So what does he suggest if you’re trying to break a record? Well, “plan accordingly to your record attempt and prepare yourself as much as you can, physically and mentally, all things are possible.”

 (Guinness World Record)


Chinese zoo embarrassed after attempting to pass off golden retriever dog as an African lion

Visitors to a zoo in southwestern China were left shocked and confused when they saw a golden retriever in a cage intended to accommodate an African lion. In a video clip that circulated widely on social media this week, a man took his child to visit Yuanjiashan Zoo in Xichang, Sichuan, but was startled when they found a golden retriever in the African lion enclosure, despite signage introducing the animal as a feline. “Is that an African lion? Is it because it hasn’t grown up yet? It looks familiar to me,” he joked. A worker of the zoo told the man that the cage had housed a lion in the past, however, the animal had been moved to another location, he said. However, the man said he did not accept this. He accused the zoo of selling tickets promoting lions. He also said he found no lions anywhere else in the zoo. (South China Morning Post)


Friday Cracks Open A Few Cold Ones Because It’s:

  • Good Friday
  • Hospital Admitting Clerks Day (First Friday)
  • International Kids Yoga Day (First Friday)
  • International Children’s Book Day
  • Ferret Day
  • Love Your Produce Manager Day
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly Day
  • Nickelodeon Day
  • Reconciliation Day
  • World Autism Day
  • World Autism Acceptance Day
  • World Marbles Day (Always on Good Friday)