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I wonder …

I experienced a quick but strange pondering over the weekend. I saw a Yankee Candle on a shelf and thought, I wonder how well Yankee Candle sells in the south?

According to, there is one Yankee Candle store in all of Louisiana, one in Arkansas, two in Mississippi and four in Alabama. There are 12 in Georgia, 11 in South Carolina and 15 in Tennessee.

Meanwhile, there are 41 stores in New York and 66 in New England, including 34 in its home state of Massachusetts.

The U.S. Census Bureau’s stats show that those seven southern states have a population of 37,444,624. That’s one Yankee Candle store for every 814,000 people or so. Meanwhile, those seven northeast states have a population of 34,480,814, or one store for every 322,000 people.

Yankee Candle’s latest publicly reported revenue was $844 million in 2013. While I may never know the exact financial number to what I wondered, I know more today and can likely conclude that Yankee Candle sells at least twice as well in the northeast than it does in the south. Not really a surprise, but I feel better having done some research.


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What Trump could learn by visiting a YMCA

Like the rest of the world, I was pondering the results of the presidential election last week. I was at the YMCA where I saw posters proclaiming their core values.

Caring: To demonstrate a sincere concern for others, for their needs and well-being.

Is Donald Trump a caring individual? Well, he did propose federal subsidies for child care that include tax deductions, rebates, savings accounts and paid maternity leave. However, a closer look shows that families earning $60,000 or less get $15 for every $100 they pay for childcare. Those making a half million or more would get $39.60 for every $100.

Honesty: To tell the truth, to demonstrate reliability and trustworthiness through actions that are in keeping with my stated positions and beliefs.

Just two months before the election, a CNN/ORC poll showed that 50% of registered voters considered Trump “more honest and trustworthy” compared to just 35% who said the same about Hillary Clinton. An ABC News/Washington Post poll had similar numbers at the end of October — 46% for Trump, 38% for Clinton.

These polls, perhaps, explain why Trump won. He sold the narrative better. His message — A Mexican-paid wall, blocking immigrants, bringing back all those overseas jobs and busting the corruption in Washington — was believed more than Clinton’s “better together” message.

Meanwhile, Politifact, the fact-checking group, rated 70% percent of Trump’s 331 statements they checked to be mostly false, false, or “pants on fire,” while 26% of Clinton’s 293 statements were in the same false range. Somehow telling half-truths or better 30% of the time convinced enough people to vote for him. I think we need to aim a higher next time, folks.

Respect: To treat others as I would want them to treat me, to value the worth of every person, including myself.

“Nobody has more respect for women than I do. Nobody.” That was Donald Trump during the third and final presidential debate at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas in October. That comment prompted guffaws from the audience that Chris Wallace had to quiet.

Despite the Access Hollywood bus open mic fiasco that allowed us all to hear that Trump wants to grab women by the, um, p-word, and get away with it … despite dozens of sexual-assault allegations and claims of him groping beauty pageant contestants … despite his insinuating during a Republican primary debate that Fox News host Megyn Kelly was menstruating (she had “blood coming out of her wherever”) and complaining on stage about Carly Fiorina’s face … despite saying that he’d like to date his own daughterhe won the vote among white women in this country by a 53-45 percentage score.

Responsibility: To do what is right — what I ought to do, to be accountable for my choices of behavior and actions and my promises.

I can’t create something out of nothing here. I find no evidence on the positive this time.

Trump and his businesses face thousands of lawsuits, ranging from defamation to people who claim Trump didn’t pay them for services rendered. He used hundreds of thousands of dollars from his own charity to settle his many legal problems. His third wife, Melania Trump, broke immigration laws by modeling before she had obtained a work visa, and he reportedly had an affair while married to Melania.

Since the election, we’ve seen and heard a different Donald Trump. He appeared to be humbled during his visits to the White House and the Capitol. He was calm and thoughtful during a “60 Minutes” interview. He has to balance the boisterous, entertaining and bigoted candidate who won almost half of the country’s votes with a more gracious, humble and serious president-elect to calm the other 49% or so. It starts with his staff selection … and perhaps visiting his local YMCA to ponder the meaning of its core values.

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Presidential election proves we need to fix a broken system

What kind of country do I live in? It’s not the same one that I thought as recently as a year ago, but I’m forced to face — and accept — a new reality.

For more than a year, I thought Donald Trump was playing out a joke. Surely he couldn’t be taken seriously during the Republican primaries. After all, he referenced his own genitals, insinuated that Fox News host Megyn Kelly was menstruating during a debate (she had “blood coming out of her wherever”) and complained about Carly Fiorina’s face. All of this live on stage. On national television! He must be crazy, I thought. He won’t win any primary with language like that. He insulted John McCain, Rosie O’Donnell, Mexicans, Muslims, Chinese, President Obama, handicapped people. All of this several months before the open mic on the Access Hollywood bus.

He slung his scariest insults at the media. reported in April that he said, “I think the press really, really misrepresents and it’s extremely dishonest. I think that’s the biggest problem with the campaign, is the dishonesty of the press, honestly.”

He and I disagree on policies about climate change, immigration and energy, but I confess that I agree with our new president-elect about one thing — the system is broken. Our two-party system is broken. A dysfunctional Republican Party featured veteran leaders who wouldn’t endorse Trump but put him on the ballot for the rest of us to consider as a finalist. A disillusioned and probably corrupt Democratic Party weaseled its way around Bernie Sanders to make sure Hillary Clinton landed on the ballot. We’re a country of more than 300 million people, and we were left to decide between two people who each had higher than 50% dissatisfaction ratings. We faced a lose-lose situation on this historic election day.

Thanks to a two-party system that’s fueled by a human growth hormone known as Citizens United, we may never again see two final candidates that can be respected by the majority of our country.

Trump doesn’t much believe in the two-party system either. According to The Washington Times, he changed political party affiliations at least five times. He started as a Republican in 1987, switched to the Independence Party in 1999, became a Democrat in 2001, went back to the GOP in 2009, then marked the “I do not wish to enroll in a party.” box in 2011. He ultimately flipped to Republican for a third time in April 2012. Of course, in New York state, that was too late to vote in the 2012 primary but not too late to complain on Twitter.

Trump and his supporters are spot-on about one thing — we need to change our system.

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Owners blow it with OT rules change

The new NFL overtime rule has some intrigue, I’ll grant you that. Rewind to January. The Saints, with a little help from the officials, drive down the field against the Vikings. They’re in field goal range. Do they push for the end zone to win the game without allowing Brett Favre and the Vikings a chance to touch the ball? Do they kick a field goal to take the lead but kick off to the Vikings and give them a chance to score?It’s a coaching dilemma, and it’s one that coaches should have a chance to review during preseason and regular season.

That’s the biggest flaw of this new rule. It’s for the playoffs only. Imagine a special rule for extra innings that says you have to win with a home run, but it’s only in effect during the World Series.

Three playoff games in the past 10 seasons have been decided by a field goal on the first possession of overtime, which is the scenario that is affected by Tuesday’s vote of NFL owners. Just three games. Twelve playoff games between 1970 and 2000 went into overtime, and 10 more went into overtime since then. All those games, but it really comes down to one. The Vikings-Saints game in January.

Ironically, the team that lost that game voted against the rules change. Ziggy Wilf, the Vikings owner, said he voted against the change because it should be implemented in the regular season and not just the postseason. Totally agree.

This new rule is a prop, a circus act. It may make for some fun debate and second-guessing, but it’s not football. It forces a coach to make a decision that he otherwise would not have to make. It takes too much away from the players. That’s the argument against the coin flip. Don’t let the coin decide who gets the ball and thus has a 60% chance of winning in OT.

The best option for putting the game back into the hands of the players is to play it like the NHL, not college football as many have argued. In college, teams alternate starting on the opponent’s 25-yard line. Each team gets the ball, which is great, but the kickoff and punt teams are taken out of the game this way. In the NHL, teams play a frantic five minutes of overtime with regular rules, then go to a shootout if necessary in the regular season. In the postseason, they play by regular rules until someone scores.

My proposal for the NFL is to play a 10-minute overtime. Both teams would have at least one possession, and all aspects of the game would be relevant. The period is five minutes shorter than a regular quarter. It’s enough time to make it relevant, and it’s quick enough to make a dramatic ending just as you just witnessed in the fourth quarter. If there’s still a tie after 10 minutes, let it remain a tie in the regular season. If it’s the postseason, play another 10-minute overtime. Only one of the 22 playoff games since 1970 lasted more than 20 minutes past regulation – a divisional playoff game between Miami and Kansas City on Christmas Day, 1971.

The new rule addresses the issue of the coin flip and quick drives for winning field goals, but it doesn’t tackle all the issues. For that, the NFL owners have come up short on fourth down.

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Cowboys deserve this fate

News flash for Dallas Cowboys fans: This T.O. thing isn’t going to get any better.

The Cowboys fans who rejoiced when Terrell Owens joined the team should have known this is how the script was going to play out. If a dog pisses on your lawn, do you invite him to permanently live in your backyard and give him lots of biscuits and water?

Remember when T.O. played for the 49ers? He disrespected the star at midfield. Now that he has a pair of stars on his helmet and wads of money falling out of his pockets, has he changed? Of course not.

T.O. was, is and will be all about T.O. He’s a marvelous athlete, but he’ll never make a team better. He missed 14 straight workouts with the team, uses his own doctors, misses meetings and hasn’t played in an NFL game in 10 months.

For those of us who hate the Cowboys, his presence on that roster is a blessing. It’s a team that could contend for the NFC crown, but with this distraction, maybe they’ll finish last in the East. We can all hope for such blessings.

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