Sun | Jul 15, 2018

Egerton Chang | Christmas, Viagra and blasted potholes

Published:Sunday | December 17, 2017 | 12:00 AM

Christmas was much simpler when I was growing up in the 1950s and 1960s.

In the evenings, sometimes we would drive around to observe the Christmas trees in the homes. Of course, not every household could afford a Christmas tree, but whoever could focused all their energies and resources on that tree.

Remember, the technology in those days were 'primitive' when compared to nowadays.

The bulbs were confined mainly to 'pepper' lights which were, in reality, just small incandescent bulbs that got hot if left on too long.

The latest advancement at that time was 'blinkers'. These lights were just pepper lights that would intermittently break the entire circuit whenever it got hot ... . Hence the whole string of lights would 'blink'. Just one 'blinker' would be needed per string of lights.

I recall that at Chang's Emporium, one 'blinker' would cost almost as much as one or two strings of normal lights.

The only other different lights I can remember were 'bubble' lights. These had a relatively long tube of liquid that would boil or bubble, when hot. These were also relatively costly.

Of course, there were lights that were made to form figures like Santa Claus, Rudolph (the red-nosed reindeer), elves and Jesus. But these were essentially plastic forms with a pepper light inside to illuminate them.

It seemed to me that households would intentionally 'display' their trees as they were normally placed in a prominent place next to a window at the front of the homes so that all could see and admire them from the outside.

We literally grew up in Jamaica's first supermarket at 86 Half-Way Tree Road, and Christmas had an extra significance to us. For the sales for the Christmas season meant make or break for the continued success of the family business.

It was hard to distinguish work from leisure. Yet, the family always found time to make up a small nativity scene.

This was normally created in a large box that goods were delivered in, turned on its side with the 'front' of it cut open.

The scene always had a lighted star attached to the top edge of the box and figurines that included Mary and Joseph

huddled around the baby Jesus with the three kings (bearing gifts), shepherds and angels looking on. The scene was completed by a couple of sheep and camels.

All these figurines were placed on thin curly wood shavings used for packing material, wadding for fragile goods that came in the crates. The shavings were perfect for the scenery, as they resembled the straw that one would imagine was used to soften the hard ground.

A string of pepper lights was used to illuminate and enhance the entire settings.

While the nativity scene, along with an elaborately decorated Christmas tree, was principally for us as a family, it was placed on the upstairs veranda at the top of the stairs so that valued customers could view it. The gramophone was often left on playing Christmas carols that added flavour and atmosphere.

I remember priests and nuns, from Holy Cross, visiting to view the nativity scene, too

 

Sex for Less

 

The little blue pill has now gone on to become the little white pill. Or rather Viagra, the first lifestyle pill that didn't cure a disease or alleviate pain just went generic early last week (11/12).

Since approved in 1998, Viagra (sildenafil) has made Pfizer billions of dollars.

Joined by Cialis and Levitra in 2003, these three have cornered the $5-billion-a-year erectile dysfunction market, marketing their products even to men and boys with little or no need for it.

In fact, the goal of all three companies soon became to expand the market by getting these drugs to men for whom impotence wasn't a major problem.

It's funny and ironic that the biggest side effect of Viagra was "an erection lasting for 5 or more hours", something every man fantasise about, even wishing for one that would last for a n hour.

It's funny and ironic, too, that sildenafil was developed as an angina medication to help prevent heart attacks. But, alas, trials showed that the compound wasn't that effective for angina.

Instead, it had a remarkable side effect. It was discovered that with very little arousal, men got and could sustain erections.

(Some years later, sildenafil was in fact approved for certain heart problems as well.)

Teva Pharmaceuticals just launched its generic version of the little blue pill and will market it as a white pill.

While this version will sell for around half of the branded Viagra product (US$65), it is projected that when others enter the generic market, something they are free to do come April, 2018, the price could drop to one tenth of less.

Or, in other words, one could get 10 times the erections for the same bucks.

Women beware.

 

Blasted potholes

 

This rainy season appears to me to last a little longer and with more rainy days than normal. And it doesn't seem to be at an end just yet.

But if the Government feels the people can wait any longer for it to repair the roads, that are in a worse state than I can ever recall, they would be making the wrong move. The people's patience is at an end.

While no one expects that all roads will be repaired at the same time, the Government needs to start repairs to all the main roads before Christmas.

In most areas, not even a little marl has been placed in the manholes that I am sure have already caused numerous punctured tyres, 'nuff' broken rims and ruined a lot of front ends, inflicting unnecessary costs to motorists.

By any stretch of the imagination I think the people have been patient and understanding ..... thus far.

The major infrastructural road improvement at Barbican and Constant Spring, and all the others, are all well appreciated and will definitely ease the flow of traffic in the respective areas in the long term.

But while that is very commendable and praiseworthy, we, the people need to go about our business with relative ease and in good time, NOW.

Merry Christmas and a happy new year to all!

- Egerton Chang is a businessman.

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