Sunday, December 03, 2006


Turns out the snowbombed church is an affiliate of the Southern Baptist Convention; i.e. it's the conservative Billy Graham / Jerry Falwell sect. Apparently Dakota Fanning, Chuck Norris and Bill Clinton are members. Jimmy Carter left when the more progressive Cooperative Baptist Fellowship split apart. No word on Hillary.

I doubt the North Face family knew all this when they pelted the wee church with snowballs. I didn't know, and I'm a journalist for chrissakes -- and we all know that journalists know it all.

So.....After pulling away from the snow-splattered church I made my way to class, where I led three people through a version of Dharma Mittra's Level III/IV flow sequence. More III than IV, actually. For the record: Two of the students drove to class, while one walked. All three thought they would be the only ones there. All three seemed unaware of the teacher-can-cancel-if-there's-only-one-student rule, and I chose not to enlighten them. Only later I realized the proper response would have been, "I thought I'd be the only one, too." I did however thank them for coming.

Afterwards the roads were relatively clear, so I made my way to Jewel to pick up some red peppers and other delightful bits for the salad I was to bring to an evening gathering of my writing class. I took the main roads. Despite the fact that it was still snowing, hard, they'd all been cleared quickly and cleanly -- the Mayor is up for re-election next year and we wouldn't want to repeat Michael Blandic's disastrous performance during the Blizzard of '79. Even Addison Avenue, heading towards Wrigley Field, was gorgeous.

In front of The Jewels I saw a short, fit man holding a clipboard. Oh no, I thought, rolling my eyes, not another ward cretin trying to get da mare on da ballet.

But he didn't fit the mold -- he was normal-size -- so I met his eye as he started his spiel.

He was trying to get the city's only openly gay alderman on the primary ballet, which required just 250 signatures (vs the 25,000 needed to run for mare). But I wasn't in his ward.

Inside The Jewels, it was like a scene from Day of the Dead -- limping, half-blind white zombies wandering about, bumping into things, dazzled by the selection and trying to remember what they came in to buy. Meanwhile a woman in a bright orange jacket flitted about them with purpose, which confused them even more.

After telling the Streetwise guy in the baby blue Carolina snowsuit thanks-but-no-thanks I went across the street to CVS, in search of a new snow removal device.

I looked near the entrance; nothing.

I looked in the automobile aisle; nada.

Finally I tracked down a blue-shirted employee.

Turns out they didn't have anything along those lines.

"I hate CVS," I said as I turned away.

Apparently she'd heard me.

"I know," she said. "Everyone does."

(NOTE: Over the summer, all free-standing Osco Drug Stores were taken over by the East Coast-owned CVS chain).

"Osco would have had everything right by the front door, right where you could find it," I said.

"I know," she agreed.

"They would have made a killing."

"I know."

"What is CVS thinking?"

"I don't know."

"CVS doesn't sell blue recycling bags, either," I whined.

"I know."

"And they don't let you recycle plastic bags here. They're civic bad sports!"

"I know."

It was nice to feel validated.

"I'm not upset with you," I said. "It's not your fault. It's this store."

"I know."

"I miss Osco."

"I know."

Still, I had to get in the last word.

Er, make that bird:

1 comment:

  1. CVS, with more than 6,000 stores, has yet to match the profitability per store of traditional rival Walgreen Co. It is actively replacing many stores within strip malls with more profitable free-standing corner locations to try to narrow that profitability gap.

    Meanwhile, discount retailer Wal-Mart Stores Inc. recently rolled out a plan in Florida offering many generic drugs for $4 a prescription. It is expanding that strategy nationwide, and neither CVS nor Walgreens has matched it.

    CVS definitely hasn't been standing still. This aggressive acquirer recently agreed to buy pharmacy-benefits manager Caremark Rx Inc. in a stock deal worth about $21 billion. The resulting CVS/Caremark would have $75 billion in annual sales and manage a billion prescriptions annually, which is more than one-fourth of the U.S. total.

    That shocker of a deal is being watched closely for its impact on the nation's health-care delivery system. CVS already has a small pharmacy-benefits manager and Walgreens has been building its own.

    CVS' third-quarter earnings rose 12 percent, aided by its acquisition of 701 Savon and Osco drugstores in June. Sales at existing stores have been on the rise. Caremark Rx earnings increased 25 percent thanks to additional Medicare services revenue.

    Shares of CVS (CVS) are up 8.5 percent this year following gains of 17 percent last year, 25 percent in 2004 and 45 percent in 2003.

    Since it derives 70 percent of sales from dispensing pharmaceuticals, CVS should benefit from growing needs of aging Baby Boomers and the Medicare prescription drug benefit. It has been increasingly successful in using prescription sales to drive purchases of more profitable merchandise such as health and beauty products, groceries and toiletries.

    Consensus Wall Street rating of CVS shares is a "buy," according to Thomson Financial. That consists of six "strong buys," six "buys" and seven "holds."

    Earnings are expected to rise 12 percent this year versus 10 percent projected for the drugstore industry. Next year's forecast of 23 percent compares to 15 percent expected industrywide. The five-year annualized return of 15 percent exceeds the 13 percent projected for its peers.

    Thomas Ryan, chairman, CEO and president of CVS, began his career at the company as a pharmacist, worked his way through the ranks and owns a significant amount of the firm's shares.