Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Mathematics of Today's Vacations

This is not a complaint, so don't take it that way. It's just something that popped into my head while I was running some numbers today.

You have to wonder how things come to be priced in the U.S. anymore and why we Americans continue to put up with the mathematical duplicity that goes on. Why does it cost $30 for an adult to view the same exhibit that a senior adult is going to see at $24 and that a child will see at $16? (or $40, $31, $28 if you do the other place instead, which is owned by the same company) or both together ($60,$45, $34)? They're the same exhibits, right? Everyone's eyeballs are going to look at them the same way, using the same light sources, walking on the same floors, using the same restroom facilities. So, why different pricing just because of age? Because we've let ourselves be convinced that it's appropriate.

In the cases of the allegedly discounted "combined ticket" I know they want to entice you into doing both and thus convince yourself that you're doing yourself a huge favor and saving a ton of money by choosing to do both, and thus inching their bottom line a little higher into the black zone. You may very well save money if you intended to do both, but couldn't they just set one nice reasonable price for everyone, and reduce the amount of math required? (Don't hate me for doing the math. It was forced on me in school.)

I know this mathematical word problem above is probably causing chest-tightening math-class flashbacks for some of you who found math class a waste of a perfectly good hour of your time. But, don't worry. I'm not going to give you a pop quiz.

Based on these numbers, I can understand why whole families can't really afford to take vacations anymore, at least to visit high-end attractions and places like amusement parks, etc. What is sadder still is that many theme parks are now offering "payment plans." Eek. If you have to finance a visit to a theme park, is it really worth it?

I think our own museums and state parks have it about right. You can take your family on an outing to most museums and camp out at state parks in Missouri without wreaking havoc on your budget . . . for the whole rest of the year. And that may very well be the case with many other attractions and museums in other states. I haven't visited them all . . . yet.

Maybe those high-end amusement and theme parks really are those once-in-a-lifetime magical vacations that everyone should aim for, but for a vast majority of families today, even modestly sized ones, they're about as feasible as me getting that Ferrari I've had my eye on. I could probably come up with enough to buy the t-shirt with the logo. It may be as close as I ever get.

#family #budget #camping #Missouri #museum #waterpark #themepark #vacation #familyvacation #statepark #familyfun

Monday, August 14, 2017

No Sign Posts When Doing Historical Research

My piece of advice for those who are thinking of taking the plunge of #writing #historical #nonfiction or #historical #fiction - if you don't like digging through mounds of #data or spending your time in #museums or #photographic #archives, then you're barking up the wrong tree. Maybe carpentry is a better career path. You still get to build something.

But, if the above activities really intrigue you, if the prospect of visiting your local #historical #society the next day wakes you up in the middle of the night, or if you would rather stay up all hours of the night perusing through the pages and pages of data you copied or downloaded or photographed, then you're on the right track.

Beware! There are no #signposts to guide you in your research endeavors. The #journey will be a long and winding #trail. There will be moments when you will jump through #history a decade or even a century at a time and then find yourself back again. You will become an expert #puzzler, as you try to piece all the different data bits together into a cohesive finished product. You will accumulate #notebooks by the dozens, and #computer files by the thousands, and in a very short amount of time. But, if you stay #truetoself and your #project, you will, no doubt, wind up with a #story or #article that will make your target #readers glad you expended the effort.

Monday, February 6, 2017

The Knights of the Order of the Moving Boxcar

Originally printed in the Maryville Daily Forum, October 23, 1935.

My favorite article out of the day's research related not to Nodaway County's need for a new jail, but to the City of Maryville trying to get a new one built for city detainees. Keep in mind in reading this that there was a huge mobile population during the '30s, during the Depression, when this occurred. A large percentage of the population was out of work, most people didn't know where their next meal would come from, or if they would get one. There was a world war developing on the horizon and many of the men once vagrants would enlist to ensure they had three squares a day and a cot to sleep on, in addition to wanting to do their bit for their nation.
At this time, vagrancy was a crime, and hopping boxcars was and is a crime. But, I had to admire the creativity of everyone involved in this. This little story about the Knights of the Order of the Moving Boxcar will make you grin.