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On the subject of our continuing coverage of the West Coast port lockout, we got the following email from one MNB user:

“I hope that this lockout comes to an end, but I wonder what relationship there is between Bush getting stronger in his confidence that Congress et al will support his focus on going to war. If he was going to intervene, it could have been days and billions of dollars ago. He seems to be concerned as to how this strike is going to affect the entire country, but in the meantime it has further eroded an already weak economy on the West Coast that will take even longer to recover, for it's not just products not being infused into the economy, its jobs, and lost revenues of the cities where this is occurring.”

And MNB user Don Dulle added:

“This brings up an interesting point. I just wonder about the products on this big over-sea ships going to waste, could we, did we, or would we ever grow them ourselves here in the U.S. I think it would be great to feed ourselves and become less depended on those out of country producers. If these products were grown in California or somewhere else in the U.S., it would not matter if the docks were closed. This is from a guy who loves the good ole USA and would like to us take care of us.”

Regarding the $28 billion punitive judgment that Philip Morris was hit with the other day, MNB user Jeff Philpot wrote:

“What scares me is not that there are people in the jury box these days so willing to discount the attributes of personal responsibility and common sense, but that they can make a mockery of the courts by awarding $28 billion for ignorance. How can anyone claim they don't know the dangers of tobacco? Come on people, grow up and face the consequences for your actions.”

In response to our story about McDonald’s thinking about putting staffers outside its stores to speed cars through the drive-through lane, one MNB user wrote:

“The fact that McDonald's is thinking about putting staffers outside to take orders leads me to believe they have been paying more attention to it's competition. In the Chicagoland area there is a fast food chain called
Portillo's that should be the blueprint for all. They've been around for about 40 years but instead of pushing quantity of stores, they have slowly expanded and appear to stress quality. Though the food is fantastic, it's their efficiency and atmosphere that make it the place to eat. They are always extremely busy and cars can easily back up in the drive through. However, they have been utilizing outside order takers for years now where different employees take the order, relay the order back inside, collect money and hand you your food. The lines move quickly, there are very few mistakes and the food is ready and hot. Inside is impressive as well. They have a large indoor seating area with different themes - from the 30's Prohibition era to the 50's to an old miner's western time - which makes eating inside more fun, especially for the kids. But it is even more amazing to see how efficiently they get the orders ready and how so many people can move seamlessly around the kitchen area. Portillos has obviously taken its time to get it right and seems to have its focus on expanding slowly and responsibly rather than open 100 chains a year. So it is no surprise to me that Mickey D's is contemplating outdoor staff - I'm willing to bet that quite a few McDonald's execs have been eating lunch at Portillo's lately and they may have some other ideas forthcoming.”

And, in response to our stories about this week’s National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) show, MNB user Bill Duncan wrote:

“Used to work with NACS back in a much simpler era. Used to enjoy the conventions. I think C-stores, more than any other business, personify the American Dream...or at least used to, from the entrepreneurs who built the chains on their ambition, guts and cleverness, the store managers and area supervisors that work tirelessly and move up the ranks quickly (if they are any good), the many immigrant and minimum wage employees who get their start in c-stores, and the great emphasis on new ideas and innovations that powers the better c-store chains. Used to be a whole lot easier to be convenient. Now I think it's easier to be inconvenient. Our standards are a lot different today than 20 years ago. But as usual, there is an abundance of great ideas and an equal lack of nourishing food at the show.”

Finally, there was the inevitable email that came in about the Giants-Braves game the other night, this one from MNB user Scott Johnson:

“As one who was there last night as the Braves painfully fell to the Giants here in Atlanta it was, of course, a disappointment to see the Braves be a Bridesmaid once again. But as a lover of the game, I think it is wonderful that the mighty and powerful (Braves, Yanks & defending champs D’backs) have fallen and are out due to the heart shown by the teams less likely to be at the dance. It’s good for baseball.”
KC's View: