Of Walmart Jars and Not-10 O’clock News

Just a couple of little things that caught my eye.

When is it 10 O’Clock?

First up, while it’s not particularly uncommon, due to various time shifting and channel sharing arrangements, to have a show showing out of the normal time slot; and especially in the case of satellite TV where there are often East Coast and West Coast feeds of the same channel (one wonders what happened to Mountain Time and Central Time Zone…not to mention Alaska time and Hawaii Time Zone) – this particular opportunity to ‘grab a shot’ could not be passed up since the NAME of the show included the time, that it wasn’t…

The picture isn’t the best. It was a ‘grab shot’ with whatever camera was grab-able on the whatever-old-leftover-TV was stuck in the back room… but it’s good enough to illustrate the minor funny-bone tickle.

The 10 O'€™clock News... at 11

The 10 O’€™clock News… at 11

Maybe they need to re-think the name of that show, at least on that channel…

In fairness, IIRC ch 36 is just doing a rebroadcast of another channel time shifted by one hour and into a more southernly location. I *think* it is channel 2 (San Francisco) into San Jose. So it does make a kind of sense. But really… Kind of like “jumbo shrimp” and “efficient government”… it makes a rational question out of “Dear, when is the 10 O’clock news on?”… “At 11, darling, I told you that last night.”…

Evolution Of Walmart not so green

Some few years back Walmart succumbed to the Green Dumb and went to almost all white labels on their products. The notion being pushed by the Radical Greens then was that dyes were chemicals and chemicals (don’t you know) are always bad, therefore it was a good thing if you took dyes out of your products. There were loads of natural tan (preferably hemp) fabrics and products with labels that failed in their fundamental duty to inform the customer what’s in the package.

The notion was daft on the face of it. Dyes can be evil (heavy metal and carcinogenic organics) or entirely benign (see the color of the vegetables in your salad). There is nothing about a colored label that is inherently “good” just because it is bland and ineffective.

Lest anyone think me a rabid dye lover: Having a tendency to allergies, we go out of our way to buy products devoid of fragrance and dyes. Just too many times the nose, eyes, or skin have objected mightily to crap in the products. My fundamental bias is toward “minimalist” designs of all sorts, and doubly so for product dyes and fragrances. (I don’t have a photo of it, as I refused to buy the product, but one of my “Oh God No” moments was looking at a bottle of laundry detergent with “Hypoallergenic” and “no artificial fragrance added” or some such all over the front, and on the back in small type finding “fresh scent” (or something similar). Talk about “unclear on the concept”… But I digress.

The PURPOSE of a label is primarily to inform the customer “What is in this package?”, and secondarily to sell the product. A bland black and white (or worse, the garish yellow with black text that for a while was used for “generic” in some stores), just doesn’t cut it for the basic job of the label. Yet Walmart, under Green Pressure, “went there” for their house brand for a couple of years. I found it maddeningly more difficult to find the products I wanted. Not only were the various products all visually virtually the same (color, format, etc. etc.) but I tend to ‘blank’ from awareness the non-product clutter in a store – and that included expanses of black / white blur… Took me a good 3 months to get to where I’d even SEE that there were jars or cans in that blur. Old skills are hard to erase.

As I recall it, the first “green” labels didn’t even have the picture on them that the first one in the photo below has. Then again, I wasn’t seeing them well (noticing them) and wasn’t paying much attention, so I could be quite wrong on that. In any case, this photo starts with what I think is after the first step away from “green bland”; or perhaps it is their original green bland.

Well, by purely accidental events, I ended up with three jars of jam, of almost the same type, all from Walmart. But they illustrate their slow “walk back” of that Green Blob Stupid packaging policy. 2 are Peach, 1 is Apricot, but close to the same product. It’s an interesting evolution.

Walmart Jar not so Green evolution

Walmart Jar not so Green evolution

Sadly, I have no picture from the pre-Green-Stupid transition. By the time I realized what they were doing, I’d used up most of my stocks at home and the stuff in the store was bland on white; and I’d not thought about the potential for capturing that transition. So this starts with the “green” label that has mostly white in it. Then, a year or three on they sneak back in some more color.

The second jar adds in background color, but still a narrow color pallet. Finally, on the right, the newest jar that has thrown in the towel and is using blues in addition to reds and yellows.

I remember from the original transition that Walmart was being berated in the news about not being ‘Green’ enough and ‘Green’ folks agitated that they didn’t remove ALL color dyes from their labels. Maybe they finally learned that they will NEVER be able to satisfy the “looney side of left” who hate them for simply existing, no matter what they do. Maybe they just figured out that the purpose of the packaging is to work, everything else is secondary. Who knows…

For me, the transition back to color has been a bit easier. I had finally learned to look for the white expanses and then scrutinize the picture and text to figure out what was what (especially challenging on products with tiny bits in them like ‘mixed fruit’ where a glace from a distance is not obvious. When the “blue blob” labels came out, I had a bit of a time learning to “look for blue blob” to find the Walmart house brands. But having transitioned once, the transition back was quicker.

In any case, this photo is a historical documentation of the Walmart Walkback on Green Blob labels. Good on you Walmart.

Sidebar on Politics in Shopping: For anyone thinking me of any particular political ilk for shopping at Walmart: I’m not. I’m just cheap when cheap is good. So I start with Walmart if needing small quantities, or Costco if needing big bulk, for those things were cost dominates. Then proceed to Whole Foods just down the road for all the “special things where price doesn’t matter”. Checking things off the shopping list as I go. Finally, on the way home, it is either Sprouts for those things where they do a better job than Whole Foods – like Turkey parts and tortillas without hydrogenated oils and very nice prices; and finally a stop at the Chain Grocer Of The Day for anything else not yet found. My shopping isn’t political, it’s “what do I need, who has it at the best mix of price/availability/quality/service?” Nothing more. I don’t give a damn if their product is “fair trade” or imported from Cuba or made with Exxon Chemicals. Is it a good product, at a good price, where it’s easy for me to get? Walmart often has that. When they don’t, I go elsewhere. Well, really, I always go elsewhere… it just shifts what gets bought at each ‘where’ that I’ve elsed too ;-)

In Conclusion

So that’s it for this small posting. Just a couple of visuals that caught my eye. A snapshot of absurdity in the world. I often notice such absurdities, but don’t often get pictures of them. Watching the absurdity of human behaviour is a favorite pastime of mine; since it is always available no matter where you are.

FWIW these photos were edited and sized on the Raspberry Pi M2 using GIMP and this posting was made using the R.PiM2 as well. It’s fine for this kind of thing (since sound is not involved…and I still haven’€™t resolved the sound problem).

For photo editing, I find Gimp better than the alternatives on the Chrombox, and for moving files around between media: the R.Pi is vastly better. The Chrome attitude is “All your data are belong to us” and it tries desperately to keep everything on web pages or in the Google Drive. As I’m a “save it to my storage” kind of guy, that makes the Chromebox very limited. I don’t really want all my photos to be in the Google space and subject to Google snooping (or where a rule change might make them non-mine as Facebook does with images… I own my stuff, not them).

That was one of my major “issues” with life on the Chromebox. I fixed it sort of via a USB dongle of 16 GB or so where I could store “my stuff” and do downloads off the box. But even there, moving data to / from an FTP server or similar is just a damn PITA. My new WiFi router makes a nice USB to FTP (or HTTP:) server and I’ve got a 32 GB test flash drive in it. Easy as “pie” to move files to / from Windows, Linux, and the Raspberry Pi. Chrome? Still not figured out how to get something OFF the Chromebox and into the FTP server… Maybe there’s a way, but they sure hide it well if there is.

So the two of these boxes, together, makes a nice set. Chrome for when I just want some media to read / write without a lot of fuss, or privacy. Nice for web surfing and doing “link to wiki photos” postings. Great as a Youtube station ( I don’t really care if Google knows I like Lady Gaga… though it was a bit creepy when I was watching music videos and it “suggested” that “just for me” I ought to watch a Global Warming Skeptic video…) The Raspberry Pi is a nice ‘fast enough’ editing station that can walk and chew gum for things like private photo editing, and posting in general. Good for “download this and put it on that file server – or local” while doing writing or ‘text reading’ (i.e. non-video web pages). The only downside being that at present I have to shut one down to use the other (swapping peripherals and HDMI cable).

I’ve not turned on the Windows box nor used my other Linux ‘big boxes’ since I got the R.PiM2 running. At the moment, with GIMP open and editing this page, I’m at about 4% to 10% of CPU usage and 305 MB out of 1 GB memory used. The little box does fine on most things. Just needs software that is a bit more mature and with bugs / mis-features fixed. CPU usage jumps to 20% on scrolling and up to 30% on things like large saves in the WordPress editor. But WordPress inside a web browser is not very efficient anyway… There is just a tiny bit of lag sometimes as 25% CPU is pegging one processor. The Cubieboard with an A15 (like that Octo Core! board) would likely be just dandy ;-) But even the tiny bits of lag here are rare enough to be easily tolerated.

So “for a while”, I’ll be using the two of them as a team as the “Daily Driver”. This will help clarify the feature set I need to assure is present on the eventual future “one desktop” target. As of now, it’s basically “R.PiM2 + fast video and stereo sound” features. And with less pain in the attempt to set up audio…

With that, back to work ;-)

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
This entry was posted in Human Interest, Humor, Tech Bits and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Of Walmart Jars and Not-10 O’clock News

  1. Larry Ledwick says:

    I noticed the same thing for a while they shifted to all white box pasta and are now shifting back to color on the labels. Perhaps was just a diversionary tactic (lets go white box until the goof balls go and start harassing someone else then we can bring by color labels for product differentiation.

  2. Power Grab says:

    I’ll have to see what impression it makes on me the next time I’m in the store.

    However, my first thought is related to my past life in advertising. In print media, a big white box with a little copy or small image in it is quite effective as an eye-catcher…if the rest of the page is busy and full. Sort of like “the noisiest thing in music is silence.”

    A mostly-white label could also be cheaper to produce than a pretty, flashy one in full color.

    Hey, remember when generic products first came out? They even had generic greeting cards!

  3. punmaster52 says:

    I generally take a minimalist approach to things, so the white labels work for me. The blue is adequate and inoffensive but nothing special as artwork. I like the orange and yellow. It is appealing even though it reproduces the colors of the fruit, or because it reinforces them?

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