The economy is still so weak that one in eight Americans now relies on food stamps to help pay their grocery bills, and yet in May, Mission Minis — a San Francisco purveyor of expensive pygmy cupcakes — experienced such high demand that its exhausted employees were threatening to quit after several marathon days of grueling baked goods preparation. To satisfy the city’s appetite for these Justin Biebers of the dessert world, one Mission Minis employee reportedly spent 52 hours baking, boxing, and taking orders.

All across the country, Average Joe small businesses are enjoying similar boom times in the midst of a recession that has laid the titans of Wall Street to waste. An “unassuming, slightly cramped” spa in New York with a reputation for rudeness suddenly attracts 2,570 blotchy Manhattanites in search of deep-pore cleansing. A… More…

 

 

I spent an hour this morning on the flat roof of the church where I am the pastor with a can of tar, searching for a hole. It wasn’t an obvious hole otherwise I would have found it the last time I was on the roof. I’ve been on this crummy roof so many times I’ve created the La Brea Tar Pits up there. I continually ask God to heal my leaky roof, but God’s answer is, stick with the tar. I bet you are wondering why I do this. It’s really very simple: My church is small, I am the only employee, we struggle to pay our bills every month, and if I waited until a volunteer can make the time to do the work my Sunday School kids will experience Noah’s flood first hand. I… More…

In the months leading up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, I believed that my patriotic duty was to give up gasoline, so I stopped driving a car for a while and picked up a bike. I live in Los Angeles, a city known for traffic, freeways, and smog. But it’s a perfect place to ride a bike, too. The weather is beautiful and the streets are wide and mostly flat. Biking gave me a new perspective. I’d lived in Los Angeles for a decade already, but the city didn’t really snap into focus until I saw it from the saddle of my father’s 1968 Realm Rider 10-speed.

I saw things I’d never noticed, but most of all, the city stunk. Riding down the street was an olfactory deluge. The leaden stench emanating from automobiles and buses wasn’t the half of it. That was tolerable and expected, like the hamburger… More…